Focus on Cavan Obscura

Mullahoran artist and teacher, Siobhan Harton, will undertake an unusual and highly exciting project over the course of Fleadh Cheoil na hEireann 2011 which takes place in Cavan from August 18 to August 21 next.

Mullahoran artist and teacher, Siobhan Harton, will undertake an unusual and highly exciting project over the course of Fleadh Cheoil na hEireann 2011 which takes place in Cavan from August 18 to August 21 next.

Her project is titled ‘Cavan Obscura’ and it will see a Bus Eireann double decker bus transformed into a magical wonderland for all to enjoy.

“It started when I took a Camera Obscura Master Class in Cavan by artist in residence there, Syliva Grace Brody, a Canadian artist. My interest really grew from there,” said Siobhan speaking to the Leader.

As the Camera Obscura class was focused upon observation, Siobhan started to think of places where she spent the most time observing others.

“I’ve done most of my observing at the bus or the train station. That gave rise to the Camera Obscura event that we did on April 27 last at Cavan Bus Station. It eventually led to the Cavan Obscura project that we are doing now,” said Siobhan.

The inside of the double decker bus, which was been provided by Bus Eireann, will be completely transformed by Siobhan, daughter of Padraig and Mary Harton.

“I am blackening out all the windows and putting a hole into the black-out material about the size of a euro coin.

“In front of this I’m putting quality tracing paper. So everything outside the bus will be projected onto the screen upside down and in full colour – without the use of any technology. It’s like a video screen really,” said Siobhan.

The Cavan Obscura adventure consists of a 20 minute journey that departs opposite Cavan Bus Station four times daily during the Fleadh Cheoil festival. Departure times are 11am, 12pm, 2pm and 3pm each day. Tickets cost €5 per adult, €3 per child or a family ticket for €15 (two adults and three children).

The bus journey is not solely a visual experience; audio is also a significant feature.

“I commissioned the work of a great pianist from Swinford, Co. Mayo, Conor Walsh. He has created a wonderful piece of music for the journey.

“Also there will be an audio element when we pass certain sites, e.g. the bells will toll as we pass the cathedral, children will be heard as we pass the playground,” said Siobhan.

For Siobhan, the key aim of the project is to take people away from their normal lives and to immerse them for 20 minutes in the world of art.

“The reaction we received to the Camera Obscura at Cavan Bus Station was so positive. One thing I did learn is that people do not like to enter strange spaces. I had to lead many people in by the hand.

“However, once they were in there and their eyes adjusted they were completely amazed by what they saw,” said Siobhan. “Many people cannot understand how it works and it bewilders them.”

Siobhan, who is an arts teacher at Lus na Greine, Granard, hopes that the Cavan Obscura bus journeys will add to the magic of the Fleadh Cheoil weekend.

“The Fleadh weekend is an exciting weekend and I hope that the Cavan Obscura bus journeys add to the wonderment and magic of the overall weekend. It will take people on an unusual journey away from the reality of life,” said Siobhan.