Welfare State International is a company led by artists passionate about
finding new ways to weave art into the fabric of our lives. The organisation
pioneers the art of celebration and ceremony, exploring personal as well
as public occasions. We work with people to make significant moments
in their lives - milestones such as birth, commitment to partnerships
or burying the dead - truthful, powerful and memorable for them. Lanternhouse,
our base in South Lakeland, Cumbria, England is a centre for the arts
of celebration, offering exhibitions, installations, research and development
opportunities and a space for artists, dreamers, thinkers, planners,
facilitators and managers to come together to research and create new
models of art in society.
Welfare State International have, for three and a half decades, in 23
countries, invented and disseminated art prototypes, accessible and functional
forms which have had a major influence on mainstream culture.
John Fox: Artistic Director
Sue Gill : Director of Ceremonies
L o n g l i n e
L o n g l i n e is Welfare State
International’s current major community artwork based on the ecology, industries and
people of Morecambe Bay, in the North West of England.
L o n g l i n e will draw on maritime and archaeological
findings gathered from research on the ecological footprint of Morecambe
Bay. The bay is the second largest in the country and, as a Site of Special
Scientific Interest, is a feeding ground for thousands of migrant waders.
It has an exceptional ten meter tidal rise, fast-exposing and submerging
its traditional fishing grounds for shrimps and cockles, grounds which
are now part of the global trade in labour and food production. The Bay’s
delicate ecological balance is continually evolving through a complex
mix of shifting channels, changing climate and appropriate and inappropriate
industrial and human connections - including gas fields, wind farms and
nuclear submarines. This estuarine pattern is reflected in the development
and evolution of
L o n g l i n e.
L o n g l i n e will organically build towards a major
carnival opera in 2005. Leading up to that opera, we have already created
a major installation – ONE ROCK – and a
new song cycle ‘The Rock in the Sea’ written in
partnership with the company Whitewood and Fleming and performed by local
people and professional musicians.
Each element of the Carnival Opera will be created by a team of artists
working in collaboration with scientists - ecologists, microbiologists,
marine biologists, archaeologists, social scientists and philosophers.
L o n g l i n e journey will also be made with the
local communities and draw upon a wide range of mutual stories, skills
L o n g l i n e will include themes such as:
the rhythm of the recurring cycles of the Bay with channels that
shift every 89 years
the pattern of seasons and the migration of birds and fish
the effect of pollution and global warming on the Bay
the inter-relationship of nature and human
the effect of industries including drugs and armaments
the prehistoric survivors to be found in and around the Bay
John Fox’s conception for L o n g l i n e began
in 2000, and in 2003, ONE ROCK came to fruition as the
first part of the project, an installation in the vaulted Barn of Lanternhouse.
ONE ROCK is an ecological triptych, a site specific,
multi-media installation, created by a team of artists and geologists,
microbiologists, photographers, video-makers and computer scientists.
The installation is a sensual evocation and a celebration in sculpture
and sound of one particular rock in Morecambe Bay. ONE ROCK stars
living microbes growing unpredictably in glass constellations, mechanical
planets, digitally engineered reflections, a tidal sound barrage, proliferating
slime and specially invented video telescopes.
Isolated on a vast expanse of tidal sand, the actual rock is limestone
250 million years old. On the macro level, it is an ordinary way-markers
about the size of a sinking minicab, but it is also a kaleidoscope of
marine life with an inland sea on its back and voracious salt marsh at
its feet. In micro format it is fossilised sediment surrounded by a vibrant
sand field of millions of minute life forms.
On a mythic level the rock may be seen as a crouching beast framed between
the vibrations of Heysham Nuclear Power station and scores of satellites
scurrying like spiders across the night sky. If it has an animistic spirit,
the rock could sing of deep memories locked in the huge tidal basin of
the Bay. Dance bands on collapsing piers. Slave ships wrecked in storms.
Turner painting sunsets. Now, recent traces and tragedies of shellfish
hunters ravaging cockle beds to fill European Union bellies.
In ONE ROCK, as analytical thoughts intertwine with
mythic fables and fantastical invention, science and art are seen to
The ONE ROCK website designed by digital artist Pippa
Greenwood can be accessed through Welfare State’s Website: www.welfare-state.org
w : www.welfare-state.org
e : info
Ulverston, Cumbria LA12 0AA
1] Lantern Festival, Ulverston, 2003
2] one rock in Morecambe Bay
3] the artist Tory Basset making the Rock at Lantern House
4] installation and projection of One Rock at Lantern House
5] One Rock : The Incubator - sand, soil, microbes, salt crystals, proteins,
plants, and well-cared-for marine life regenerating matter in Winogradsky Columns
6] woodcut by John Fox
Photographs provided by and copyright of Welfare State International