New Storytelling Project Talking Statues Unveiled

Statues have been in the news lately, raising issues of what they stand for and what lies behind the sculpture. Picking up on the trend is a new project called Talking Statues led by the Scottish Storytelling Forum (SSF) and the Scottish International Storytelling Festival (SISF) that is set to shine a spotlight on unheard stories, with a specific focus on marginalised and underrepresented voices.

The project will aim to reveal lesser-known aspects of the subjects of existing statues as well as achievements of those already celebrated by monuments. A Scotland-wide call to action has been launched asking the public to research and to imagine who should be on a plinth to make this a time to tell their story.

These stories will then be shared as part of a special event led by storyteller Mara Menzies on 27th October as part of the Scottish International Storytelling Festival. Budding storytellers can also take part in a free online storytelling workshop on October 20th in advance of the sharing event and an online discussion on social media will take place on October 26th using the hashtag #TalkingStatues.

Also as part of the project, Mercat Tours will run special Talking Statues walking tours every Saturday in September and October in Edinburgh. On the tour, Mercat’s  storytellers will explore the stories of people such as a fighter; a surgeon, a scientist and an explorer, who’ve been  immortalised in bronze but whose lives are  often forgotten.

In addition to their tales, you will be able to explore the gaps in the skyline, that is to say the statues that we don’t have and should be celebrating. These could include people like Bessie Watson who was the youngest ever suffragette; Elise Inglis the medical pioneer who founded Scottish Women’s Hospitals and Joseph Knight, a former enslaved servant who won his freedom in a landmark case that found slavery could not be enforced by Scots law.

Speaking at the launch of the Talking Statues Project Miriam Morris, Storytelling Development Officer at Traditional Arts & Culture Scotland said “Many of us pass by statues every day without even thinking about them, why they are there and who they represent. As we re-examine our past and look to a better future this project was created to help share stories that deserve to be heard. They might be hidden histories behind monuments we pass every day or celebrations of those worthy to be put on a pedestal. For that reason, we are inviting people to research local community or family history by using archives, libraries, online portals or simply strike up conversations with friends and neighbours and we look forward to sharing the stories that are uncovered as part of this year’s Scottish International Storytelling Festival.”

Anyone who wants to find out more about the project, share their discovered stories or take part in the free online workshop event, can email Miriam Morris at

To book a place on the Talking Statues tour that starts on 4th September, please visit the Mercat Tours website where tickets are now on sale.

Talking Statues Sharing Event takes place on Wednesday October 27th from 7 ‐ 9pm

Details available online at Scottish International Storytelling Festival website (SISF).

Irene Brown

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