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Welfare State International

   
wsi firey house

www.welfare-state.org

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

The name 'Welfare State International' has been archived and a physical archive is held within the Theatre Collection at Bristol University. The WSI website is being maintained by Dead Good Guides as a continuing digital archive of Welfare State International.

 
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Productions and Projects

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Longline: the carnival opera
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2006
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Longline: the carnival opera

For the past three years, Welfare State International has been working with local communities to explore the stories and landscapes of Morecambe Bay. The opera will weave these strands together to create a performance involving professional musicians and performers, a hundred-strong cast, acrobats, choirs, brass bands, percussion groups, processions, film, huge animated lanterns, fireworks and poetry.

Longline: the Carnival Opera is an ecological fable, and will reveal the compelling history of the danger and seduction of Morecambe Bay, from prehistory to its electronic and terrifying future.

Musical direction is by Tim Fleming. Lead musicians will include tabla player Inder Goldfinger(Manic Street Preachers), Tyndale Thomas (Liverpool Philharmonic Gospel Choir), James Squire, Dan Fox and Ali Rigg.

Longline: the carnival opera will be the last production by John Fox and Welfare State International.

Longline: the carnival opera is part of Longline, WSI’s three-year project exploring and celebrating the mythology, ecology and life of Morecambe Bay.

Other performance productions were: One Rock, and Barebones Associated projects were Bay Tales, a book of stories gathered from local people around Morecambe Bay and Moons in the Mud by Hannah Fox, an installation of the domestic patchwork of these stories.

These followed WSI's mixed-media installation, Nativity of the Beasts in 2001, an elegy to the death of animals from the foot-and-mouth outbreaks in Cumbria, and a creative response containing a song of hope celebrating birth and fresh growth.

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LONGLINE
Longline

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Metamorphosis
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2005
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Metamorphosis explored the idea that human actions can irrevocably alter the patterns of nature.

A screen covered one wall of the exhibition space at Lanternhouse showing video images of coppiced oaks and the woodland floor carpeted with bluebells. Throughout the room, hundreds of paper butterflies fluttered in the breeze.

Visitors could sit and watch the woods, and listen to the bird song, but those who moved around the space triggered less peaceful sounds and images. An animated butterfly, which had been resting quietly on the trunk of an oak tree flapped furiously across the screen, accompanied by jarring electronic sounds.

The piece used movement sensors and computer programming to co-ordinate sound and images.

The piece was later installed in an underpass on the the Lancaster University campus. Changes of sound and image were triggered by passing traffic, raising new questions about the relationship between nature and technology.

Metamorphosis was a collaboration between three WSI artists, Hannah Fox, Tom Lloyd and Dan Fox, students from Lancaster University Computing Department and .:thePooch:. – a group who explore the use of science and technology in art.

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wsi metamorphosis
Metamorphosis

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Barebones
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2005
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An intimate big top and circus ring set the scene for an evocation of Morecambe Bay. Stories of ghosts, economic exploitation, heartbreak and survival had been recorded from local people, to reveal the mythic narrative pattern of the Bay.

John Fox’s uncompromising poetry told tales of romance and the treacherous sands, as well as those of child labour and the deaths of 23 Chinese cocklers, the profiteering mill owners of the Industrial Revolution, and the gangmasters of the global economy.

The narrator was Andy Burton. Puppeteers were led by Hannah Fox and the band and singers led by Tim Fleming.

Barebones was part of Longline, WSI’s three-year project exploring and celebrating the mythology, ecology and life of Morecambe Bay.

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BAREBONES
Barebones

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One Rock - An Ecological Triptych
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2003
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In the North West of England, on the western shore of Morecambe Bay, a quarter of a kilometre off Bardsea Beach, on the muddy sand between high and low tide, there is a lump of conglomerate limestone. It is an ordinary rock about the size of a mini car. An ordinary rock except that on its humped back is a small inland sea crammed with shrimps, crabs and mussels. In each bucket of sand at its base are a thousand minute sea fleas; in each grain of its body are microscopic shells nurtured in tropical seas; and in each bacterium dancing over its head there are worlds untold.

In its heart ancient tides unfold. It has a tale to tell. It knows of fishermen and drownings, of lighting storms and dance bands on collapsing piers. Its sense of deep time and its local and global perspective could shift our everyday perception.

A group of microbiologists, ecologists, computer scientists, artists and poets worked together to create the installation, soundscape and mujsical performance One Rock. Together they awakened one ordinary rock in the sea between tides in Winter.

One Rock was an installation, an education, songs and musicians, a performance, a fable.

One Rock was science and art.

Projections of microscopic images of diatoms gathered from slime and water adjacent to the Rock showed the soup from which we emerged. The spiralling patterns in these minute forms mirror the shapes of distant galaxies.

wsi bottles
Winogradsky Columns
Bottles of sand, microbes, salt crystals, plants, and other marine life formed "Winogradsky Columns", emanating their sulphurous swampy smells.

Fables and songs called out from under the pier, in a shell grotto guarded by a demonic Mister Punch and sea wolves.

The Rock in the Sea Song Cycle featured Andrew Ridal and the Longline Junior Choir, plus composer Tim Fleming.

Digital artist Pippa Greenwood designed a One Rock website.

One Rock was part of Longline, WSI's three-year project exploring and celebrating the mythology, ecology and life of Morecambe Bay.

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wsi rock
One Rock

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  Welfare State International
www.welfare-state.org

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