Hut of the Shadows

(Sea / Sky Chamber, Both nam Faileas)

A camera obscura in a small isolated vernacular building on the rocky shore of the Sponish Peninsula in North Uist, the Hut of the Shadows (Gael: Both nam Faileas, also known as the Sea / Sky Chamber) is situated a half-mile (0.8 km) northeast of Lochmaddy. Visitors follow a path from the village and cross a small suspension foot-bridge and causeway at the entrance to Loch Houram.

An arts project promoted by Taigh Chearsabhagh Museum and Arts Centre in Lochmaddy and supported by the Scottish Arts Council, this was the work of English environmental artist Chris Drury in 1997, with the help of local people. It comprises a grass-roofed dry-stone rubble construction which represents a modern tribute to the architects of similar prehistoric buildings.

Having opened the small gate which prevents the entry of sheep, visitors enter through a narrow curved passageway that leads into the unexpected blackness of a small chamber. Once eyes get used to the dark, the landscape outside can be seen projected onto a flat stone on the wall by means of a pinhole lens and three mirrors. The experience is most impressive on a bright sunny day, when it is easily possible to distinguish birds in the sky, from hills, rocks, islands and the waves in Loch Maddy.

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