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Dead Good Guides

   
www.deadgoodguides.com
foxandgill@btinternet.com
t : 01229 - 869 769
Ulverston, Cumbria
England

Artistic Director/s    John Fox
Sue Gill

Vision  
An artist-led company, seeking a role for art that weaves it more fully into the fabric of our lives.

We work with people to create ceremonies to mark significant moments in their lives, such as birth, commitment to partnerships or death. We offer training in rites of passage for those who wish to become freelance secular celebrants.

Dead Good Guides' ongoing research also includes Wildernest at the Beach House, installations, arts and environment workshops and gatherings on the northern shore of Morecambe Bay.


Editors' note: On 1 April 2006, Welfare State International ended. John Fox and Sue Gill, who founded WSI in 1968, moved on to continue their work as Dead Good Guides.

 
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Productions and Projects

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Wildernest at the Beach House
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2013
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Wildernest at the Beach House is Dead Good Guides' ongoing work at Baycliff, Ulverston, Cumbria, on the northern shore of Morecambe Bay.


March 2013: Wildernest Land Management

    At an unusual local auction where 30 acres of Morecambe Bay foreshore and woodland came under the hammer, we managed to acquire a handkerchief sized plot of 2 acres running north from the Beach House. Labelled 'Manorial Waste' its ownership goes back in time to the Middle Ages.

    So, we have a patch of scrubland on an embankment of loose boulder clay, countless neglected small trees, loads of brambles and the foreshore up to the mean high tide mark. A public right of way - the Cumbria Coastal Way footpath runs along the tideline.

August 2013: Gathering People and Energy
    We are making installations, arts and environment workshops and gatherings:
      Icons for an Unknown Faith - enameled plaques on the theme of 'Stations of Evolution', designed and fired in the studio kiln and set along the garden wall. Following in the well worn if unlauded traditions of vernacular Outsider Art.
      Whirlygigs and Weathervanes - more animated wind sculptures, dubiously engineered, reflecting dreams and nightmares from the deep.
      Bio-degradable Funeral Urns - how to produce a casket for cremated remains that is beautiful, dignified, sacred and connected to what used to be called 'Nature' and holds together long enough before it dissolves rapidly in the sea.
1 September 2013: Putting a Peg in the Ground
    The first event in our Wildernest project: Fires and Soups. Songs and Stories. Flags and Whirlygigs. Weather Vanes and Washed Up Sculptures. Friends and Conversation. Sounds and Music. Films and Fantasies. Icons for an Unknown Faith.
October 2013: Planting
    Planting Winter Wildernest onions and potatoes on the beach in Lazy Beds.

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Tidemark
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2013
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Tidemark was a site specific event at the Beach House, Ulverston, Morecambe Bay for the MA in Theatre and Global Development students, University of Leeds with Professor Jane Plastow.

Seven students met on a shingle beach to acknowledge the weather, the tides, the sun and the moon - one day before full moon. Morning high tide was 8.94m and evening high tide was 9.36m. We shared food and stories from their different continents, made lanterns, fires, small figures and a reed boat.

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I Could Read the Sky
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2013
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Dead Good Guides were invited to County Mayo to explore creating wonders in the Ballycroy National Park.
    'A bit remote and boggy there but but a great opportunity to take over our dream team and make new work with many brilliant Irish artists.'
Reconnaissance 15 -20 February.
Residency 23 March -16 April

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2012 Opening Ceremony - Emergence Summit
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2012
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The Emergence Summit, organised by Volcano Theatre and the Centre for Alternative Technology, Machynlleth, explored sustainability and the arts, and was held in the Wales Institute for Sustainable Education.


Fox and Gill were asked to devise and present the Opening Ceremony. Its title was 'Making the Bread Called Tomorrow'.

Working with this metaphor they considered what ingredients - practical and metaphorical - should go into this bread. In the hours before the summit began, they ran 2 simultaneous workshops with 40 Land Journeyers who had made their way on foot over 5 days to arrive at the site, on routes curated by Simon Whitehead.

They created gifts to be given to the other delegates on arrival: handmade bread was baked and aprons were printed for a celebratory processional entry. This followed the welcome, the exchange of shoes and a huge spiral dance outside which Sue led, with interweaving arches, to the tune of Speed the Plough with John on melodeon, Paul Allen and Ansuman Biswas on percussion.

The Closing Ceremony, again created by Fox and Gill, covered the spectrum from delicate poetry of Rebecca Elson to anarchic interruptions from a junk band to massed harmony singing taught by Ben Macfadyan, and finishing with the transformation of the immaculately raked sand garden by Jony Easterby to an tumultuous finale.

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After the Storm
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2012 - 2013
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After the Storm is a sculptural requiem and elegy in response to the thousands of their trees which fell in the storms of January 2012 on the Falkland Estate, Scotland. The project began 31 August 2012, and ran through to 10 February 2013.

Five associate artists of Dead Good Guides created a temporary sculptural trail, the pilot of an 'arboreal temple', an arboreal cloister with twelve stations of the forest for visitors to connect with 'storm stories'.

Created by recycling fallen wood left by the storm with a minimal budget, fueled by local generosity, the work involved over two dozen volunteers.

    'The twelve stations take you from a view over a storm-blown ravine past a crucified blood-coloured beech tree which then turns ghostly white. Following the marks of destruction, you come across a procession of refugees made by Hannah Fox. They are emerging from the tangled roots of an upturned tree, not sure who is leading them or where they are going.

    Finally you arrive at the heart of the site where you are welcomed by the return of the light, a place to rest for a short time and a sound installation by Dan Fox (from a solar source) that offers storm stories for reflection.

    Finally on your way back, you have an opportunity to leave your own reflections on a beautifully crafted clootie tree by Duncan Copley before returning to the starting point, perhaps with a different perspective'.

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Dead Good Guides' Rites of Passage
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2009 - ongoing
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Sue Gill and Gilly Adams hold annual Rites of Passage workshops exploring aspects of ritual through writing, making and personal ceremony. Their work involves large scale public commemorative events and the creation of new ceremony to mark personal transitions in one's life.

In June, 2014, they will hold their Rites of Passage Summer School at Swarthmoor Hall, Ulverston.

    'In our changing social and cultural environment, where confidence in traditional religion has often diminished, the challenge is to create new and appropriate rites of passage that can be witnessed by friends and family. The workshops examine the Hows and Whys of ceremony and celebration in a practical and experiential way. Beginning with an exploration of the way that rites of passage have already featured in our own lives, we looked at what else might require special attention: - beginnings and endings; gains and losses; transitions. We examine how both positive and negative life events can be distilled into myth and poetry and created meaningful rituals to contain them. We look at how music, visual art and carefully chosen words can be used to enhance ceremony'.
The workshops have included those at:

East Woodlands, Frome, Somerset, October 2013

Midsummer Rites of Passage School, Swarthmoor Hall, Ulverston Cumbria, June 2013

Rites of Passage Spring School, Cumbria, June 2012

Trailblazery at the Dublin Fringe Festival, September 2013

Field of Vision Summer School, Falkland Centre for Stewardship, Scotland, 2011

Ceremonies and Celebrations Workshops, Friends Meeting House, Brighton, 2009 and 2010

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  Dead Good Guides
www.deadgoodguides.com
foxandgill@btinternet.com
t: 01229 - 869 769

The Beach House
Swinstead Lane
Baycliffe
Ulverston, Cumbria
LA12 9RY
England

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