Fatherline is an open collaborative art project supported by Manchester International Festival Creative50. An interactive telephone line about fatherhood, acting as a living library on which participants can listen to and add short stories.

Fatherline collates personal stories about fatherhood via the medium of an interactive telephone line. In offering anonymity and a common technology, the project hopes to capture an intimacy and frankness that might be denied in traditional interview forms.
The site describes itself as ‘a place to share stories – not a support line’.  As the project has moved forward the support element seems to have happened organically, much to initial surprise.

Jack Hardiker from Manchester band Shaking Chains is the name behind this project.

“I’ve been overwhelmed by the responses so far” explains Jack.  “I’ve done a fair amount of crying as the stories are so much bigger than the project. I’d initially envisaged the piece as a tool to share funny stories due to the website being a parody of an early 2000’s charity website. The voiceover and soundtrack are quite surreal and heavily stylised.

As the project progressed and I spoke to people about their potential responses to the phone line. It became clear the results could potentially be quite different; far more personal and heartfelt. I worried there was a disconnect between the humour of the website/audio and the responses people are leaving. The feedback I’ve got from people is that the humour actually helps evoke more personal responses along with the intimate nature of the telephone and puts people at ease. ”

This isn’t the first time that Jack has created something which has spiralled into something quite significant. He created the ‘Midnight Oil’ music video for Shaking Chains. The first of its kind, the video uses AI to set off a search algorithm inspired by lyrics in the song to create a unique visual experience every time it’s played. This technique has been more recently mirrored by the band Muse.

Find out more about Fatherline by visiting the website: https://fatherline.com and use the telephone number to listen or event record your own experience and stories.

Without sounding like a 1990’s cliche, channeling their inner Bob Hoskins, ‘it’s good to talk’. In a current society where we are collectively aiming to breakdown the stigma against mental health, projects like Fatherline really can open us up to talk and discuss things more.

The Fatherline number is  0203 6178243