I'm Philip Cowell and I focus on the arts, philanthropy and creativity.
I've got eighteen years' experience in arts charities (World Monuments Fund, Arvon, English PEN, Good Chance) and sustainability/design (Abel & Cole, Here Design, Futerra).
I also write to commission and lead playful workshops in creative writing, movement and serendipity.
Arts projects and fundraising
From idea generation to project management and fundraising, I support arts charities and artists to create beautiful things. For example, Good Chance, the Theatre of Hope that collaborates with refugee artists to connect communities, stories and cultures. The current focus is The Walk, a travelling festival of art, theatre and hope led by 9-year-old giant puppet, Little Amal.
I've worked as a copywriter and design writer, as well as written poems, essays and books. I wrote a playful book about punctuation, This Is Me, Full Stop (Penguin), co-authored a book about Stress (Sheldon Press), and wrote another one about Keeping a Journal (Sheldon Press). I researched and ghost-wrote three books for Thames & Hudson: Herbarium, The Grammar of Spice and An Anarchy of Chillies. I've written for Abel & Cole, Futerra, Here, London Business Forum, McKinsey & Company and Pearl Group, amongst others. My writing has appeared in Poetry Review, The Guardian, BBC Culture, Wanderful, POEM, Ambit, Butcher's Dog and others.
I lead fun writing, movement and serendipity workshops. I've created sessions on topics including Friendship, Disappointment (with Retta Bowen), Laughter and Not Knowing. I've led workshops for Write & Shine, Street Wisdom, Normal? Festival of the Brain, Southbank Centre, Wilderness Festival, Free Word as well as many schools, refugee centres and prisons.
I Wrote You This!
A creative writing workshop with a difference – it’s got nothing to do with you! We write for the joy of other people: little letters, poems, stories, love songs. Practise gift writing to get out of your own story for a bit. A relaxing workshop with light movement and mindful moments. Find out more
Words into Songs
I'm pairing up with star composer and songmaker Helen Chadwick for some fun writing exercises leading to creating sung phrases and songs. You are welcome to come whether you joined us before or if this course is new to you. Words Into Songs is equally for people who don’t write songs or words and for those who do. Find out more
Proud to support:
I lead Street Wisdom sessions – free creative walking workshops on street corners – getting people back into their bodies and out onto the streets to walk, talk, listen and wonder, in search of fresh answers to old problems from the world around them. I'm very lucky to be Street Wisdom's poet in residence!
I'm an associate of Living Words, the arts and literature charity that 'listens out loud' to people living with a dementia, or experiencing isolation, so that they can enjoy free expression and share stories with friends, family and carers.
Write & Shine
Led writing workshops for Gemma Seltzer's incredible early-morning writers, focusing on Friendship and Laughter.
Words Into Song
Co-devised and led a series of 'creative writing for songs' workshops with awesome singer/songwriter/composer Helen Chadwick.
Wild Goose Writing
Led a series of embodied writing workshops, using the 'soft animal' of our bodies to explore and write.
Advanced Disappointment for Beginners
Co-created with Retta Bowen a fun workshop investigating this undersung hero of the emotional cabinet.
This Is Me, Full Stop
Co-created and wrote a book for all ages for Penguin about the secret lives of punctuation marks with epic designer Caz Hildebrand.
Herbs, Spices & Chillies
I researched and wrote for three books published by Thames & Hudson: Herbarium, The Grammar of Spice and An Anarchy of Chillies.
In Spite of Asteroids
My unpublished poetry pamphlet was awarded in the Pighog Press/Poetry School prize.
Performed in Matthias Sperling's Walking Piece, commissioned by Siobhan Davies Dance, exploring community, connection and the dance of walking.
Punctuate Your Life!
A creative punctuation workshop to get people playing with the tiny marks we use everyday but rarely think of – including making up new ones! Produced as part of Folkestone Triennial.
Creative Writing for Yogis
Ran a yearlong series of creative writing workshops for people who regularly attend a yoga centre near me. Included creating new poses, imagining animals, and the art of relaxing.
A Little Larger Than The Entire Universe
Co-devised and performed dance piece inspired by Fernando Pessoa and Felix Baumgartner with dancer and teacher Timothy Taylor at Conway Hall, London.
Life Writing (with Nude)
I devised and hosted a creative writing workshop at the Southbank Centre with a nude life model.
Returning To Writing / Poetry in Detention
Devised and managed projects bringing creative writers together with returning soldiers in Andover and people in detention centres in London and Dover to help create new stories for the future.
Rain of Poems
Poetry commission for Casagrande's Rain of Poems event in London. My poem, When Sheep Turn Their Backs To The Wind, was translated into Spanish and bombed out of a helicopter with 99 other poems.
Ran a yearlong series of memory making and art workshops for older patients of a local NHS clinic. Involved singing a song from the good old days each week!
Staying: Dream, Bin, Soft Stud and Other Stories
Co-created a sound event (in the dark) with Oreet Ashery and Artangel at Free Word, London, exploring alter egos, love, and the asylum process.
Helped manage the installation of Antony Gormley's "empty chair" sculpture in the British Library forecourt, to mark the 90th anniversary of English PEN. You can sit on it!
Keep Me Posted
Devised and hosted Keep Me Posted letter writing workshops and Letter Writing Club Night at Free Word, London.
The Arvon Foundation
Led the Arvon re-brand (and starred in the ad shoot!) with design agency, Here.
Published in Wild Correspondings: an eco-poetry sourcebook, Elephant Press (2021) (eds) kin’d & kin’d (Kay Syrad & Clare Whistler)
Have you heard of Stonefish?
I dreamed that Marianne Moore
Had written a poem called Stonefish,
Never published, or documented, before.
In the dream Marianne Moore recited Stonefish,
Hovering in a wooden-panelled lecture hall,
Each word spoken coralline, like Stonefish,
Her lectern floating, her dancing tricorn.
When Marianne Moore finished Stonefish,
We all fell to our feet in applause. Not a word
Remains other than Stonefish,
That part of everything that cannot be heard.
Get in touch for arts projects, creative workshops and new writing commissions.