Isolation Portraits Project – Part 6

Isolation Portraits Project - Part 6

During these weeks of calls to friends for this project, I realised that I hadn’t spoken with any of them over the phone… like never. Even the ones I’ve known for years before the digital revolution, it’s been ages. People just don’t call each other anymore. We live into the illusion that because we see each other’s photos on social media, we are still connected. Even those who don’t use much social media, they know they can text you and exchange a couple of sentences once in a while and that friendship can go on like this. How sad is that?

How bad it is that we think we are so busy that we cannot call a friend for 15 minutes and have a proper chat? I sometimes think to do it, but I’m always stopped by the idea that I would be seen as a weirdo, to call without anything specific to tell, just to have a chat.

When the lockdown started, everyone seemed keen to re-connect properly. But human beings are so adaptable to changes that I feel that everyone around me has found a way to be as busy as before. I guess this is good. Or is it? 🙂


Iryna is one of the crazy people I met in the English academy, back in 2014. With her I learned a bit about mysterious Belarus and, once again, how politicians can fuck up a whole country, just being morons.
What I liked the most about Iryna is that she seems very strong, but she has a lot of soft spots inside her, always trying to hide them, just not to be hurt. For a few months, we have also been roommates! We shared a tiny room in a quite decent house (according to Dublin’s house market standards). Lucky her, she left Ireland a few years ago to chase a warmer location and better living conditions. Dublin is a nightmare if you don’t have an EU passport, so she embraced the adventure to go as far as Saudi Arabia!
She now lives in VIetnam (!) and has never looked better.


Hello world! 🙂 I’m a Belarusian who is looking for a permanent house 🙂 Lived in Ireland, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and now in Vietnam 💪


I was born Soviet Union in Belarus and speak Russian and unfortunately keep forgetting my lovely Belarusian language. I still trying to speak English correctly 😂 I lived in Ireland for 3 years and my main goal was to achieve advanced level at English I know few words in Arabic because I voiced in Gulf countries for 2,5 years but even didn’t start to study Arabic because it wasn’t necessary for me and I don’t understand even their numbers!) I knew German super well but haven’t used it properly in my life and forgot.

Быть одному – не значит быть одиноким. Быть одному – это значит посвятить себе время и в очередной раз познакомиться с собой. Один – это когда везде рассчитываешь только на себя, как в соло путешествиях. А вот быть одиноким – это уже состояние. Можно находится среди тысячи людей, но чувствовать себя одиноким. Это когда не с кем сходить на кофе по твоему состоянию души, а не потому, что рядом никого нет. Кстати, сейчас мне просто напросто не с кем сходить на кофе 🤷‍♀️

To be on your own doesn’t mean being alone.
To be alone means to devote time to ourselves and once again to get to know ourselves.
Being on your own is a condition in which you can only rely on yourself, as in solo travels.
But being alone is already a condition. You can be among thousands of people, but feel alone.
For example when you donìt have anyone to go for a coffee with and not because no one is nearby.
By the way, now I just simply don’t have anyone to go for a coffee with 🤷‍♀️


I met Tomasz at the beginning of 2020. He was one of the artists involved in this year edition of the Mother Tongues Festival, which I help to organise since 2017. He is a kind of an exception to this project, as we don’t know each other very well. But I invited him to take part in this because during the brief chats we had before the Festival I felt he is the kind of man who goes beyond the trivial stuff we deal with on a daily basis.
Tomasz never says anything obvious and doesn’t speak just to fill the void or to hear the sound of his own voice. When he says something, it’s always meaningful.
When I called him to take his portraits, he asked me how I was and he really meant it. He listened to me and told me wise words. 
I feel that his inner self is in a peaceful place and from there he talks with a vision of things much clearer than ours (or at least clearer than mine!). And I love it, because it makes me feel that there’s someone in this world who can see a meaning in the chaos, which is very reassuring.


I was born in Poland. I live in West Cork, Ireland, now. I’m passionate about life because life is art, art is life.

I speak a lot of English because lots of people around me speak that language, but I speak Polsih as well with my daughters, friends and family. Sometimes I have a chance to speak a bit of French and German, but that doesn’t happen to often.


Droga Eleno, tutaj trzebabyłoby zastanowić się, co słowo samotny czy sam znaczy dla każdego z nas. Dla mnie samotność jest czasem do kontemplacji i głębokiej intymnej relacji z otaczającą rzeczywistością. Wszystko wokół nas ulega ciągłym przemianom. My, nasza percepcja. nasze istnienie, to kim jesteśmy bierze udział w tych przemianach do tego samego stopnia jak wszystko inne. Tylko trzymając się kurczowo wyuczonych formuł stwarzamy dla siebie wizjęciągłości, stabilności. W rzeczywistości nie ma momentu który można uznać za stały, choć wielu z nas do urzeczywistnienia takiej wizji dąży. Być samym to wielkie szczęście, które pozwala na niezwykłą przemianę w momencie spotkania z innymi.

Dear Elena, you would have to consider what the word “lonely” means to each of us. For me, loneliness is a time for contemplation and a deep intimate relationship with the surrounding reality. Everything around us is constantly changing. We, our perception, our existence, who we are, participate in these transformations to the same extent as everything else. Only by sticking to the formulas we have learned, we create a vision of continuity and stability. In fact, there is no moment that can be considered permanent, although many of us strive to realize this vision. Being alone is a great happiness that allows for an extraordinary change at the moment of meeting other people.


Silvia is my cousin, but not the type of cousin you grow up together with. In fact, I lived in her room before even meeting her. How come? Silvia grew up in Rome, but after graduating, she left the città eterna and went to cold Germany for work. A few months later, I moved to Rome to start my university studies and my aunt and uncle were so amazing to accept to take me with them, as Silvia’s room was available.
So I started to get to know her through all the things there were in the room (and there were a lot of them!). I learned that she was a very warm and cheerful person; that she loved art and had hundreds of good friends. I discovered that we had very different taste in music, but that we both loved reading. Everything else, I found out through the words of my aunt and uncle who love her so much that have always a new anecdota about her to share on every given topic.
When I finally got to spend time with Silvia I felt a bit intimidated, because I’d heard so many great things about her! But she is absolute gas! I always laugh a lot when talking to her and even during this call for the portrait I did, even though the audio was so bad that I could hear 2 out of three words lol.
By the way, now she lives in Italy and I’m abroad. I look forward to the day we can live in the same country again!


I was born in Rome some time ago, then life, work and the choices of the heart have made me change through many places around Europe in the last 17 years… now I live in Bergamo… who knows where the future will take me! I studied biology to satisfy my curiosity for everything around me… I felt in love with the microscopic world and where ideas could lead me by reasoning about its mechanisms. Now I work in clinical research where curiosity and good ideas meet and collide with economic interests. When I want some lightness I sing…but never alone always in chorus!


I speak roman dialect because is my mother tongue, then I speak Italian because is the recognized language of my country. I work mainly in English. I speak French and German enough to survive and to have day life conversation. I don’t speak Spanish because I was never in love with a Spanish speaker guy.

Mi è sempre piaciuta la solitudine, è una dimensione dove posso essere me stessa senza paura del giudizio. Mi è sempre piaciuta la solitudine per scelta, non per imposizione. Eppure se ci penso le cose che amo fare di più sono in compagnia…non canterei mai da sola e non studierei mai nel silenzio.
Questa solitudine imposta un po’ mi spaventa e un po’ mi attrae. Mi spaventa il fatto che si è soli con i propri pensieri e le proprie paure in un momento in cui forse vorrei solo un abbraccio, però non posso non ammettere che mi attrae per questo senso di soddisfazione che si prova per qualsiasi piccola cosa. Da eterna insoddisfatta vivere una realtà dove la chiamata inaspettata di un amico o l’odore delle fragole appena tagliate sono capaci di migliorare notevolmente una giornata è quasi un sogno, anzi è pace. L’unica cosa che veramente detesto dello stare sola è che se non parlo con nessuno per l’intera giornata ho una voce roca da camionista!

I’ve always liked solitude, it’s a dimension where I can be myself without fear of judgment. I’ve always liked solitude by choice, not by imposition. Yet if I think about it, the things I love to do most are with other people… I would never sing alone and would never study in silence.
This forced loneliness scares me a little and attracts me a little.
I am scared that I am alone with my thoughts and fears at a time when maybe I just want a hug; however I can’t help but admit that it attracts me for this sense of satisfaction that you feel for any little thing. As an eternal unsatisfied, to live a reality where the unexpected call of a friend or the smell of freshly cut strawberries are able to greatly improve a day, it’s almost a dream, indeed it is peace. The only thing I really hate about being alone is that if I don’t talk to anyone for the whole day, I have a hoarse trucker voice!


When I invented for myself the job of photo editor I started looking for photographers who could be interested in my services. The process was as simple as it was painful: googling every single photographer in Ireland and sending on my CV. One day I saw this very professional website, with a photograph of President Obama on the homepage. I was about to ignore it because I thought “this guy is photographing the most powerful man on Hearth. How could he possibly hire me?” 
For some reason, I sent my CV despite the above consideration. Little I knew that he not only would have called me and gave me lot of work for the upcoming years, but also would have become one of my dearest friends in Ireland! What happened with Conor is a constant reminder that one should never put limits to themseleves.
Conor is great fun and he has a huge heart. Together with Natalie they are a fantastic couple and now a family with the arrival of baby Martha a few months ago!


We got married in 2018 and now live with our daughter in Dublin. We both love to travel and have great experiences with family and friends.
Not seeing family and friends is the biggest challenge however knowing they are well is more important.
We speak mainly English however Natalie speaks German to our daughter Martha (age 14wks)



Ema is part of the Mother Tongues Festival team and I met her a couple of years ago. She is very young but is so brilliant and reliable that I realised how young she was just after this year Festival, when we were having a beer and she “disclosed” her age! 
For the last two editions, Ema was a fundamental asset to the organisation of the technical stuff for the Festival. She gave me the peace of mind I needed not to go crazy for the last two Februaries!
When I was photographing her, we were looking for some prop, beside the essential guitar and ukulele. Without thinking for more than 2 seconds, she grabbed the spider plant and told me that it was the baby of her grandma’s spider plant. That was a nice meeting!
She also wore a beautiful cap knitted by her (I told you she is resourceful!)


I am Ema! I am a musician and music teacher from Dublin. Aside from a year living in London, I have lived in Dublin all my life. Music is my biggest passion, but I am also inspired by anything creative!

I speak English because it is my native language and how I speak to all of my family and friends, I speak Irish because it is the original language of my country and it means a lot to me (though I am not as fluent as I should be after 14 years of learning it in school!), I speak some French because I learnt it in school and loved it. Two of my close friends studied French in college so I enjoy brushing up on my French with them from time to time.

To me, being alone can mean loneliness, but it can also mean time for myself to reflect and spend time with myself in a positive way. Mostly, I enjoy being alone because it gives me time to work on creative projects, like making music or drawing. My room is like a little sanctuary in this time of isolation, so I am glad I’m living at home right now. It means my painting supplies and instruments are always at arms length!


Just a few more chapters to go…