Donnacha Cahill is our guest on today’s podcast. He’s the artist behind The Gramophone, a sculpture which will feature next week at the Carlow Arts Festival. The installation is sponsored by Blacknight.

Click on the player below to play the podcast, or download it here: 16:03; 9MB; MP3.


Made from mild steel and resonating with sound, the piece itself is beautiful and functional – but as Donnacha explains it, part of its impact has to do with where it is exhibited.

It’s 3.2 metres tall. It’s about a tonne in weight. I’ve designed it to be especially mobile, so even though it’s an audio piece and everything that people can enjoy, what I’m trying to do with it as well is create a story: that it goes places.

It’s an exciting piece, because of its imposing size, certainly, but also because its size and shape has a functional basis. Like the household gramophones of old, it amplifies sound using the acoustic properties of the large conical horn which opens out like a flower. There is a little electronic audio speaker, where the needle would be on a traditional gramophone record player, but the amplification of the sound is achieved mechanically – thanks to the shape of the horn.

There’s something really special about it as well, especially that it was built for function. As sculptor, I always say ‘build for function’ because when you build for function, it has to work and you always come out with something beautiful.

The Gramophone is a great example of Carlow Arts Festival’s commitment to public art. This year’s festival has a strong emphasis on participation and accessibility for the general public. 75% of the artwork is free of charge, including street performances and public installations like The Gramophone.

Carlow Arts Festival gets underway on Wednesday 6 June and runs until the 10th. The Gramophone will be at the Fairgreen Centre on Friday 8 June from 3 – 6pm and it will move to the Festival HQ at Carlow College on Friday evening, where it will spend the weekend. For more information on the festival programme and to book tickets for the various events, visit

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