Paul Rooney at Lindisfarne Castle


Project Info


  • Paul Rooney


  • National Trust

Paul Rooney’s sound piece, Song (After Nature) was commissioned by National Trust to offer an opportunity for visitors to experience Lindisfarne Castle in a completely different way.

“The words of a siren song (the Homeric sirens sang irresistible songs, from a bone scattered meadow, that resulted in death for any sailors who heard them), which is a ‘translation’ of the seal’s calls. The song tries to lure the reader in, like an advert, offering knowledge (the deadly price for this leaks out at the end). The song’s knowledge is a warning, of the future of the climate catastrophe, where nature is merely a remembered presence, a ghost” Paul Rooney

Paul’s immersive sound piece was installed in the castle’s Upper Gallery. Seal calls and other natural sounds of the Holy Island landscape – recorded by legendary sound recordist Chris Watson – were transcribed into a richly layered cello composition created with cellist Gyda Valtysdottir. This immersive sound piece was installed within the Lindisfarne Castle ‘music room’ with accompanying objects, and a projected text that aimed to ‘translate’ the seal song as a playful yet grave warning of climate catastrophe.

“The songs of seals – or are they sirens luring sailors to their deaths? – haunt this fortress in a sound installation that exploits its seashore setting. Lindisfarne Castle looks too good to be true, a citadel on a lofty rock, and is in fact an Edwardian fake. Explore it to Rooney’s soundtrack.” – Jonathan Jones, the Guardian

5 March – 30 October 2022


Lindisfarne Castle is a 16th-century castle located on Holy Island that was converted by famed architect Sir Edwin Lutyens into a private holiday home for Edward Hudson, founder of Country Life magazine.

The Artist

Paul Rooney is an artist/musician based in Liverpool, who makes music with words “investigating the intersections of music, myth, memory and place” (The Wire magazine). His installations, videos and records assemble the contrary, unpredictable narratives that haunt particular places, fabricating fragmentary voices that comically and unreliably spook the present from an unquiet past.