Think outside the box

"Ease creates. Urgency destroys."
Nancy Kline

I'm Philip Cowell and I'm interested in the possibility of creativity, inspiration and wonder outdoors. Whether it's through art projects in town squares, serendipity training on street corners, walking writing workshops, or just going for a wander, can we think / feel / problem solve / create outside more?

Workwise, I have seventeen years' experience in some wonderful arts organisations (Arvon, English PEN) and ethical businesses (Abel & Cole, Here, Futerra).

I now head up creative development at Good Chance, the theatre company that began in the Calais Jungle refugee camp, working with artists from around the world to learn loads together and tell big stories of hope. As well as The Jungle, we're working on some incredible art projects that celebrate shared civic outdoor spaces.

I'm also Poet-at-Large at the gorgeous Street Wisdom, helping people find wonder - and fresh inspiration - on every street corner.

Tell me about you!

Live projects:

Good Chance Theatre
I am the Head of Creative Development at Good Chance, the Theatre of Hope that collaborates with refugee artists to connect communities, stories and cultures - and discover joy and creativity, and laughter, even in the most difficult circumstances.

Street Wisdom
I lead Street Wisdom sessions to get people back into their bodies and walking and thinking around the streets to ask big fresh questions of themselves and the world. I'm also Street Wisdom's Poet-at-Large, and I'm currently working on a micro-writing and street photography project called The Gay Anthropozine.

Living Words
I'm an associate of Living Words, the arts and literature charity that listens to people living with a dementia, or experiencing isolation, so that they can enjoy free expression and share stories with friends, family and carers.


Poeting and workshops
I'm a poet and creative writer, and have worked as a copywriter, ghostwriter and design writer. I wrote a fun book about punctuation, This Is Me, Full Stop (Penguin), and another about Keeping a Journal (Sheldon Mindfulness). I devised and lead the wriggly writing workshops, Wild Goose Writing, for people with bodies.

Past projects:

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.

In Spite of Asteroids
My unpublished poetry pamphlet was awarded in the Pighog Press/Poetry School prize.

Walking Piece
Performed in Matthias Sperling's Walking Piece, commissioned by Siobhan Davies Dance, exploring community, connection and the dance of walking.

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.

Memories Group
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.

Latest writing:

I Wake to Walk and When I Walk I Dream
from Wanderful (Unbound, 2020)

I wake to walk and when I walk I dream.
High five leaf! Landing back on my feet,
What the street is, is not what it seems.

All roads lead to the Rome of the heart.
I couldn't curb my enthusiasm for kerbs.
I wake to walk and then I walk my dream.

The word street has the word tree in it!
Someone says God says I’m going to hell.
What the street is, is not what it seems.

You never step in the same street twice.
An old man eats an ice-cream with a flake. 
I dream to walk and when I walk, I wake.

Something is hidden in every moment.
Here, a girl is laughing behind a lamppost.
What the street is, is not what it seems.

We are all in the gutter, but some of us 
Are looking at it, wondering what it means.
I wake to walk and when I walk I dream.
What the street is, is not what it seems.

Call me:

Get in touch for more arts development chats, creative walking and writing workshops and new writing commissions.

Now showing:

I took this photo on a delicious morning walk around Brixton recently. If you are the artist, please get in touch, I would love to credit you.