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Cavan Re-Imagined & Happenings

Artist Name(s) Dermot McCabe, Orla Murphy, Patricia McKenna, Padraic Cahill, Ross Cochrane, Gary Kiernan & John Byrne
Artwork title Cavan Re-Imagined & Happenings

Cavan County Council Arts Office appointed Orla Murphy and Dermot McCabe as architects-in-residence with a purposely open brief to facilitate an opportunity for young architects to think and work as artists within the theme of Cavan Re-Imagined.

An exhibition of the work by the architects-in-residence took place in Johnston Library and Farnham Centre, Cavan from 7-29 November 2008. The exhibition included a special hand-made reference book, Atlas of Cavan. The book and the focus of their project revealed a latent potential for civic space within the existing fabric of Cavan town by uncovering 17 laneways which thread between, but do not quite connect, Farnham Street to the Main Street.

Happenings is the title of a series of art projects that were initiated in response to the architect-in-residence programme, the outcomes of which were showcased during November in Cavan Town. The work of the resident architects, Orla Murphy and Dermot McCabe, focused on revealing the future potential of urban spaces in Cavan Town. Students at St. Patrick's College Cavan, under the guidance of the architects and art teacher Leon Lynch, have been involved with Cavan Re-Imagined as part of the community consultation process. The art projects in response to Cavan Re-Imagined, titled Happenings, included Patricia McKenna's Curious Sound Garden located in a laneway off the Market Square; AlterNations, a performance work by sound-artist Robbie Perry and mime-artist Rowan Tolley created with local young people; a screening of John Byrne's commissioned video work Cavan Summer and a range of works by the artist group White Rabbit Productions explored the potential of future relationships between artists and audiences in non-arts spaces within the urban environment.


Orla Murphy and Dermot McCabe were born in 1972 and graduated with honours from UCD school of architecture in 1995, becoming members of the RIAI in 1998. Two of their projects have featured on RTE's About the House. Since 2004, they have run the Westport studio of Simon J Kelly & Partners Architects, where their projects include housing, healthcare, civic offices, town buildings and cultural projects have received OPUS and RIAI awards. Their work has been published in About the House and Architecture Ireland.

Orla Murphy is also a print-maker, a design tutor at UCD school of architecture since 1997, and is the current editor of Building Material, the journal of the Architectural Association of Ireland. McCabe also creates Mr Whippy Soundsystem installation music events. For the Cavan Re-Imagined exhibition, Orla and Dermot collaborated with Lisa Cassidy, a student of architecture with a keen interest in hand-making fanzines and books.

Patricia McKenna
is a native of Dublin and studied in the National College of Art and Design. Her ongoing series of work Marking the Land explores the interaction between place, site, geography and history in shaping personal and cultural identities. This series includes the projects the Grey House and Soil, both of which were developed in Cavan in the 1990's, and True North which was shown in the West Cork Arts Centre in 2005. She has been awarded a number of Arts Council Awards and travel grants, participated in the Artist Work Programme at the Irish Museum of Modern Art in 1997, and has been a Rockerfeller scholar in Bellagio Italy. She was short-listed for the IMMA/Glen Diplex award in 1994. She has exhibited extensively in Ireland and internationally.

John Byrne was born in Belfast; he went to the Art College there before attending the Slade School of Art in London in the mid eighties. It was there that he began to practice as a performer, and has since performed at venues throughout Ireland, the UK, Denmark and Poland. Returning to Ireland in 1996 he performed A Border Worrier for the 1997 Dublin Theatre Festival. This apparent obsession with the Irish Border culminated in his Border Interpretative Centre (2000) a week long visitor centre project right on the border. It was subsequently documented in solo exhibitions at Temple Bar Gallery, Dublin, Ormeau Baths Gallery, Belfast and Gallerie Agregat in Mitte, Berlin within sight of the site of the old Berlin Wall.  

Would you die for Ireland? a 12min video shot by Byrne in the Summer of 2003, involved him travelling the streets of Ireland (Dublin, Belfast, Cork) asking the above question to a wide range of people including Bertie Ahern, members of the Orange order. In 2004 he installed his Dublin's Last Supper a large digitally manipulated photo-work in enamel, screen-printed and fired onto 9 adjoining panels. He has currently completing a major permanent sculptural work through Breaking Ground as part of Ballymun Regeneration. This is a one and a half life size bronze horse and rider monument unveiled in 2009. He has recently completed a new video installation for the Project Arts Centre in Dublin entitled Smokers in collaboration with composer Stephen Gardner. John Byrne has been the recipient of several Art's Council Awards. His work is in many private and public collections (including the OPW and UCC).

Rowan Tolley has been classed as one of Britain's most original and imaginative white-faced mimes. Influenced by Chaplin, Keaton, Tati and Beckett, and building on a training of Decroux technique he has studied in London and Paris, creating a style that has been described as 'classical with a touch of the unexpected'. He combines touring his one-man show Fistful Of Characters extensively throughout Britain and Europe with teaching, directing and creating for Film, Television and Theatre. Increasingly interested in the function of silence, he is a great believer in the element of risk for both performer and director. He has toured my shows throughout Ireland and Europe. Some of his Directorial credits include Krapps Last Tape for the Edinburgh Festival, L7 Fringe Festival, Village Romeo & Juliet for Opera North and Seven Days a Week for Breaking Ground project in Dublin.

Robbie Perry is known for his work with the internationally renowned Irish band Dead Can Dance. In recent years he has carved a niche for himself as an independent artist with a primary focus on creating new music and inventing musical instruments from recycled technologies and abandoned or discarded objects. He works primarily as a music facilitator with young people and runs workshops on building musical instruments from practically everything that we find in our environment. He is currently working on projects involving the use of newly created musical instruments to aid children with disabilities in the creation of art and self-expression.

Find more info about White Rabbit Productions on their website

Commission Type Local Authority
Commissioner Name Cavan County Council
Commissioning process Open submission
Partners RIAI
WhiteRabbit Productions
St. Patrick's College, Cavan
National third level institutions, NCAD
Local business
Artform Architecture,Music,Theatre
Funded By Cavan County Council
Location Various location in Cavan town
County Cavan
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