Visual artist Fiona Dowling and composer George Higgs collaborated with workers from a cross-section of workplaces, both industrial and rural, to create Work Songs, a musical portrait of South County Dublin's economic profile.

Rhythms, cycles, movements and sounds of work routines are transformed into song and performed by workers.

The first work song 'First Earlies' was created in collaboration with plot-owner Catherine Cunningham at Friarstown Allotments. 'Yesterday and Tomorrow Meet Today' is a collaboration with members of Platform One Writers, a group of dedicated writers and artists based in Tallaght. 'Hear Us Amongst the Fungus' is a collaboration with textile artist and forager Freda O’Dea. Fiona and George collaborated with Tallaght University Hospital Choir (TUH Choir) and The National Centre for Arts and Health to create 'The Hospital Workers' Song'.


Work Songs # 1: First Earlies

Video by Luke Brabazon Media

Work Songs # 2: Yesterday and Tomorrow Meet Today

Video by Luke Brabazon Media

Work Songs # 3: Hear Us Amongst the Fungus

Work Songs # 4: The Hospital Workers Song

Video by Luke Brabazon Media

Artists' Biographies

Fiona Dowling is a French-Irish visual artist, performer and storyteller.

In 2016 Fiona was Storyteller-in-Residence for Dun Laoghaire Rathdown, and a featured teller at the Cape Clear International Storytelling Festival.

Alongside painting and storytelling careers, for the last 10 years Fiona has created interactive performances for the Dublin Fringe Festival, Clonmel Junction Festival, DLR Festival of Inclusion, and Five Lamps Arts Festival. All have in common the building of temporary communities around a shared creative or aesthetic experience. Fiona has invited strangers to knit letters of the alphabet, improvise on a musical kitchen table, act out lines from romantic films, pause for a portrait, receive a bedtime story or a healing song. She feels strongly about creating opportunities for our spontaneous, fearless or vulnerable parts to come out.

George Higgs is a composer whose work comprises opera, songs, chamber work, experimental electronics and music for instruments of his own making. Higgstruments include The Lost and Found Sound Assembly (a large instrument for deaf musicians); The Machine of Song (another instrument for the deaf); The Jimmy Rig Slip Jig (where the performers assemble an instrument in the act of playing it); The Joculator (a human powered electro acoustic vehicle which George pedals around while recording and composing music) and DOOR (a musical door which two musicians trundle through a city). The invention he is most proud of, however, is his Kahoogaphone, a musical machine ingeniously engineered not to work.

He is currently pursuing a Ph.D. at Trinity College Dublin on an approach to music composition for the deaf (funded by the Irish Research Council), and is represented by the Contemporary Music Centre of Ireland.

Image: Engraving of Scotswomen singing while waulking cloth, c. 1770

Photography: Kasia Kaminska and Muriel Foxton