Carrying the Songs

A story is told and recorded on Inis Mór, a small island off the West coast of Ireland. That story is retold, from person to person, travelling across Ireland and Europe, through Scandinavia to Istanbul. Along the way, it is translated, processed by peoples’ own memories, experiences and cultures. Layers are added and other layers are forgotten and let go. In parallel with the metamorphosis of this story, a drawing undergoes the same process. It starts on the Western edge of Europe and is passed from from artist to artist, participant to participant, all the way to the Eastern edge of Europe. Each participant makes changes to the drawing, so it also undergoes a gradual metamorphosis.

Images from Pilot project, 2016, in collaboration with Ewert Ekros

The game is called Chinese Whispers in English, Stille Post in German, Gluchy Telefon in Polish, Rikkinäinen Puhelin in Finnish, Kitkine Telefon in Lithuanian.

On this scale, it is a powerful project which explores notions of memory, sense of place, language, communication and rumour, landscape and migration.

It is a project which engages people from twenty different European countries in an exploration of both our commonalities and our differences while creating a collective artwork.

How will this happen?

This giant game of Chinese whispers will start with a story and a drawing on Inis Mór, one of the most Western parts of Europe. It will make its way across through the different Gaeltacht regions, before traversing to Europe, being passed by email and telephone, through many hands along the way.


The story will start with young story teller Liam O Flaithearta on the island. The story will be told person to person over the telephone, recorded by Connemara Community Radio,  As it traverses countries, it will undergo many translations. As language is characterised by landscape and culture, it is anticipated that changes will occur in the story, and that elements will be lost or altered in translation.

The story will be a universal, archetypal story, with the ability to hold meaning through travel and alternative locations, but with local detail which will be subject to change and influences. A good story teller in every stop over will ensure that the story is kept living and full of detail.


The drawing will start with artist Sean O Flaithearta and will be passed via email, from one artist to another. Every time an artist or participant makes a small change to the drawing, that change is photographed and the image uploaded on to the timeline of a gradually evolving stop-motion animated film. It may happen that over the course of the journey, artists and people will add collage or other elements. There will be room for creative expression within a process which is curated over time ensuring dynamic change and development in the drawing.

Both the original drawing and story will disappear, being replaced by transformed versions of themselves.

in or around 1664 participants

roughly 20 countries

in maybe 20 languages

the adventure begins!

Inis Mór, Connemara, Mayo, Donegal, Dingle, Belfast, Dublin, Chesterfield, Cambridge, London, Amiens, Leeuwarden, Berlin, Aarhus, Malmö, Gothenburg, Örebro, Stockholm, Uppsala, Gävle, Umeå, Haparanda, Jakobstad, Vaasa, Helsinki, Aizpute, Vilnius, Minsk, Warsaw, Poznan, Sokolowsko, Prague, Graz, Ljubljana, Rijeka, Sarajevo, Belgrade, Sofia, Istanbul