Eyes on Stalks

By John Fox
Original paperback £14.99

Eyes on Stalks by John Fox is an autobiographical roller coaster through three decades of wild inventions. From in London `Raising the Titanic' to `King Lear' on a Japanese ski slope the Eyes on Stalks covers the principal and practice of site specific theatre, extensive community residencies and new rites of passage. It brings `Engineers of the Imagination' up to date and is likely to become a new tract for new ART. Lavishly illustrated with 30 photographs, scripts and over 100 drawings from John Fox's sketch book. It promises to be an exciting and provicating manual.

Publication Press Release

Original paperback £14.99

The follow-up to Welfare State International's bestselling handbook ENGINEERS OF THE IMAGINATION

'Welfare State International are brilliant at making an audience of strangers into a community'
The Guardian

'There is nothing quite like Welfare State International . . . their work is so charged with surprises and delights. WSI uses theatre as a means of connecting communities to the stored energy of the past'. Times Educational Supplement

'Britain's foremost alternative performance and installation collective' Robert Clarke - Guardian 2001

' A rousing tract...touching and inspiring.', Brian Logan, Time Out 2002

JOHN FOX is a prolific artist, print-maker, poet, designer, writer and also artistic director of Welfare State International, one of Britain's leading arts companies.

Founded in 1968 Welfare State made their name with groundbreaking events such as 'The Raising of the Titanic' in a London dock (LIFT, 1983), King Lear on a Japanese ski slope, the award-winning 'Shipyard Tales' (Barrow 1983-90) and the biggest lantern festival in Europe (Glasgow City of Culture, 1990). A remarkable group of engineers, musicians, sculptors, performers, poets and pyrotechnicians, the company has invented many prototypes of celebratory art such as site-specific theatre in landscape, lantern processions, spectacular fireshows, community carnivals and participatory festivals.

They have recently created Lanternhouse, a centre for training in new cultural forms, based in Ulverston, Cumbria, where they devise celebratory projects that involve the whole community.

Illustrated throughout with photographs, original drawings and artists' sketches, EYES ON STALKS brings to life the company's working practices over the last thirty years.

From his early days as a dissident clown creating interventions in unlikely places to more recent work creating rites for communities facing the death of their livelihoods, John Fox has consistently sought to challenge received notions of spectacle and theatre. Sometimes this has meant going to the ends of the earth to find inspiration, whether from the aborigines of Australia, the Ainu in Japan or the Salish in North America. Honest, hilarious and unapologetically optimistic, EYES ON STALKS is an inspiring, touching and revelatory account of the politically-driven growth of an extraordinary company from the idealistic days of the 60s to the present.

JOHN FOX made puppets as a child, learned about explosives on National Service in West Africa, spent his PPE course at Oxford doing life-drawing at The Ruskin School, then studied Fine Art at Newcastle. He formed Welfare State with Sue Gill and others in 1968, and continues to be their Artistic Director and Chief Executive. He is an artist (installations, site specific events, rites of passage ceremonies, woodcuts and video), published poet and musician (tenor sax and melodeon). He is co-author, with Sue Gill, of the Dead Good Guides to new rites of passage, including The Dead Good Funerals Book, The Dead Good Time Capsule Book and The Dead Good Book of Namings and Baby Welcoming Ceremonies. ENGINEERS OF THE IMAGINATION: The Welfare State Handbook (1983) edited by Tony Coult and Baz Kershaw, is also available from Methuen. John Fox has received a number of awards for outstanding service in the arts including the Northern Electric Special Award for 'outstanding services to the arts' and was shortlisted as a Creative Briton in 1999. He lectures regularly and conducts workshops at universities, colleges and conferences in the UK, Australia and North America. John Fox lives in Ulverston, Cumbria.

Welfare State International has staged events all over Britain and toured Australia, North America and Holland. They also stage three annual festivals in Ulverston The Lantern Festival, established in September 1983, now involves hundreds of participants and includes a spectacular fireworks finale as a gift to the town. The Comedy Festival takes place in June and the Flag Festival, started in May 1998, features hundreds of flags designed by local children which are hung above the shops to make the town into a 'gallery of the streets'. For further information contact: www.welfare-state.org