Daniel Meadows: Welfare State International 1976-1983

Café Royal Books

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Softcover | 14 X 20 cm | 36 pp

Café Royal Books | 2020

While working as photographer-in-residence to the borough of Pendle, Lancashire, 1975-77, one of Daniel Meadows' jobs was to record the work of Welfare State International (WSI), based in Burnley.

Innovators of community art, carnival, fire show spectaculars, lantern festivals and pioneering theatre of all kinds, Welfare State's work has been internationally acclaimed. Formed in 1968 as a collective, it took art out of the privileged spaces of theatre and gallery, to reach new audiences.

"In those days you could get free teeth and free coffins” co-founder John Fox recalled in 2013, "but you couldn't necessarily get free art." We wanted to engage with what I've now come to talk about as the vernacular river,” said Fox. "Underneath I believe there's a whole area of creative activity which has really become submerged. It's a natural way of being and it's not a mode of knowledge that's particularly encouraged in this culture. It's seen as a leisure industry or it's seen as something you do up to the time you're five but it's denied and channelled away from the system because, if you could make things, then we can't sell you them, can we? So it's an indoctrination to prevent people being creative.”

Café Royal Books, established in 2005, is a small family-run publisher based in England, focussing on documentary photography linked to Britain and Ireland, printed and bound locally by a small 170 year old printing company. In 2022 Café Royal Books received the Royal Photographic Society Award for Photographic Publishing.

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