enter change Performance and Nature connect unsettle bridge
Bird Brain Critical Art Ensemble Welfare State International
Simon Whitehead
Shelley Sacks
green museum.org Fern Shaffer and Othello Anderson
David Haley
John Lyall
Ballet Atlantique-Regine Chopinot
Opening Essay Introducing the Artists Links and Readings
Hester Reeve Basia Irland


Street lanterns in Ulverston





One Rock in Morecambe Bay


One Rock at Lanternhouse


One Rock at Lanternhouse


One Rock: the incubator


woodcut by John Fox

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. The
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 and traditions.

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 be inseparable.

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 at welfare-state.com
a :
The Ellers
Ulverston, Cumbria LA12  0AA

Photo Credits

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

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