Ambling through Cavan Town on Tuesday morning you’d be forgiven for thinking that some unruly youths had gotten their hands on a bottle of washing up liquid and made for the fountain in the square. Dribs and drabs of suds were dotted along the main street leaving many incredulous shoppers wondering what was going on.
On closer inspection it was revealed to be the art installation 'Happy Clouds’ by Stuart Semple as part of the 'First Fortnight’ mental health arts festival.
'Happy Clouds’ is an art piece with a difference, a series of unique, smiley-faced helium bubble clouds are released into the skies to encourage happiness and promote positive mental health. Typically, the weather obliterated the fully formed smiley faces into bubbly blobs the moment they left the 'cloud machine’, however the small crowd attending the event were cheered up by the sight of children chasing the bubbles around the square.
First Fortnight - Ireland’s only mental health arts festival with events aimed at challenging mental health stigma is currently taking place in various counties around Ireland between January 2 and January 11, as Cavan town is an area particularly affected by rising suicide rates it was chosen as a location for the special event.
Cathaoirleach Val Smith was preent at the event and was given the opportunity to create some 'Happy Clouds’. He spoke to the Celt afterwards: “I’m here representing the Council and I’m delighted to fully support mental health issues. The organisers of this event have done tremendous work in raising awarness of mental health.”
Cavan Arts Officer, Catriona O’Reilly was clearly delighted with the turnout for the event and told the Anglo-Celt: “First Fortnight is a geat initiative, anything that encourages positive mental health is to be welcomed at the moment.”
Bernie Peeters attended the event with her young children and told the Celt: “It was brilliant, something very different and the fact that you can chase clouds with smiles is just wonderful. More of this sort of thing is needed in Cavan!”
Now in its fifth year, First Fortnight 2014 will see live music, film, theatre and visual arts events staged to create open discussion and understanding of mental health problems, and challenge prejudice and discrimination