Sunday, February 18, 2018

I am stepping out of my cocoon, and with lots of support I can dance with life.

For the past four years the theme of my work seems to be

'Dancing' & 'Movement'

The Dance of Life - animation (still) by Corina Duyn. Two animated figures talking in a cocoon
The Dance of Life - animation (still) by Corina Duyn
To me, the various projects, like 'The Dance of Life' animation, the 'Reflection' Puppets, were about dancing again.
I literally meant Dancing! As in, moving one's limbs, freely. Standing on both legs, or even one leg, while graciously moving the other. Moving my arms, at will.

I truly and utterly believed that.
No one could have convinced me that the story of my work would have a very different meaning.


In September 2014 I was at Annagmakerrig, the Artist retreat-workplace.
An observations made by one of the other artists was that a lot of my artwork had figures in enclosed spaces. Eggs, Cocoons, Boxes...

I can only now see what has happened since then.

This residency was the start of Into the Light. At the start it was to be a book of essays on life with illness/disability. My health did not allow me to complete the work as intended. After many trials and almost giving up, I created a series of loose sheets, and gathered them in a box.

At the same time of deciding on the book-in-a-box, I created the small sculpture 'Stepping out of the Box' (I honestly did not see the connection for months, maybe even a year).

This small box, became the template for the Life Outside the Box  Puppet Project I facilitated with my then fellow members of the Irish Wheelchair Association, during 2015/6.


I can now see that these boxes were there to step out of.
To take my place in society again. To be heard. To be seen.
I have been put into boxes for far too long.
And I probably also created a space (a box, a cocoon) in which I felt safe and could function. Function within the limits of what M.E. has dictated in my life for almost two decades now.

The Life Outside the Box puppet project led to the invitation to talk about my work at symposiums, universities and festivals. It lead to being confident to teach again, which I now do in my studio and via distant learning.

The Reflection Puppets also came about from that residency at Annaghmakerrig.
Four years in the making, but they are done! Just the short film to be created: One of the puppets, faces her reflection in the mirror. She is standing with her walking sticks, but wants to see the dancer in her.

Two years ago I started the Dance of Life animation figures. The idea again being based on dancing. On freedom, on being able to move...

My health is far from allowing me to move freely.
My ability to move is more and more curtailed.

I perhaps I am dancing with life in a different way.
With a spirit which is soaring.
My spirit is dancing.

I am dancing but not as I had hoped.
Not as I had envisaged.
But I am dancing, in my own way.
And take my dance with society, at puppet festivals, symposium, and universities. 
Dance through my work.
Dance with my work.

During my recent retreat at Dzogchen Beara I had intended to create an animation film I had in mind for a year. But I was too ill. I barely left my room. I did manage to film a few very short clips and took some photos - at the nick of time (half hour before going home). At least I could go home some bit satisfied. See below for an impression on what I would have liked to create.

"I" am stepping out of my cocoon, and with lots of support I can dance with life.

And to top it all, my journey through illness, puppetry and 'dance' is to be filmed tomorrow by our national broadcaster. More about this later. 

The Dance of Life - by Corina Duyn (preview) from Corina Duyn on Vimeo.

Further reading and links:

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Call for Change: Fibromyalgia and Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (M.E)

Today is a hugely significant day for all us us living with M.E. and/or Fibromyalgia in Ireland.

A small group of amazing advocates for both these illnesses have organised an Awareness and Educational event at  Leinster House (our Government buildings):

Call for Change: Fibromyalgia and Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (M.E.)

This is an abstract of the letter that went out to all our politicians:

In Ireland Fibromyalgia is estimated to affect between 90,000 and 180,000 people while Myalgic Encephaloymelitis (M.E.) affects approx. 12,000 to 14,000 with no clear pathway to care, or the necessary supports to enable patients to live independently in the community.  There is no education about M.E. among medical professionals and no specialist facilities or treatments. This large cohort of patients and voters are left in the dark with nowhere to turn, abandoned by the HSE. 

These patients are at a monumental disadvantage by having a chronic illness that falls between the cracks of HSE knowledge and services that require those with M.E. to negotiate an additional hurdle to the usual challenges faced by those living with a disability applying for essential supports, as we wait for the UNCRPD to be ratified.

I am honoured to be part of this group of 6 women who have worked way beyond their own levels of wellbeing in order to make this happen. 
We are all ill. 
We have not met in person. 
All the communication was done via Facebook's messenger.
Presentations were written, shared, checked, amended.
Flyers were designed, rewritten, printed.
Badges created.
MEAI logo designed, email address set up.
All relevent information copied, printed and collated.
A huge amount of work, especially when energy is at a premium.

I won't be at the meeting myself today. I am certainly there is spirit!
And MEme is representing me.

I will profile some of the advocates here at an other time. And will update any information when I have it.

For now, please, please tune your focus onto the event of today. 
And channel your energies to the speakers. 
They need it. 
Use your psychic power to bring your attention to the politicians, 
and make sure they are tuned in. 
That they will listen.
And ACT.

We need our voiced heard.
Changes need to be made.
We deserve a health system which supports us.
Which listens to us.
Which does not disregard us

Badge for the 'Call for Change: Fibromyalgia
and Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (M.E)' meeting today

 FibroIreland  (Fibro Ireland)
Badge for the 'Call for Change: Fibromyalgia
and Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (M.E)' meeting today

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Puppetry & Disability. The contradictions of life with M.E.

Dear readers

Sorry for the long absence from writing, from showing up on this blog. 
Time just passed me by. So did the Christmas and New Years celebrations. 
Apologies for the very late wishes for a healthy, fun, contented, creative, and peaceful year ahead. 

Wishing you all that is good!

me, with experimental puppet 'Poilin'
photo by Claire Egan Boyd

Most of the time I write, here, or more likely in my private notebook when there is a lot to process. To figure out. To get my head around. At times I avoid the pen and paper altogether. I go into a void, go into hibernation. Or spend time figuring 'things' out through the more tactile ways of handling clay, or just by looking at the birds, nature, the fire or candles.

Living with M.E. never ceases to amaze me how much of an impact it has on my life. And for a lot of my readers, or their own lives too. I realize I am almost in tears writing this... Almost. As I also see the opportunities that it has given me. 

For the past few months I have spend most of the time at home. Luckily I am content to be in my own environment. The cabin fever did not hit me, as I had plenty of kind friends who visited me, and at times took me out for a short spell into the world beyond. Spent time with students to share my love of 'all things puppet', and stayed in touch with many via social media. 
Grateful to all! Thank you.

During this time of valued (almost) hibernation, I was handed brilliant, amazing opportunities to be part of the real world in months to come.
The absolute, complete contradictions were and are, not lost on me.

Back in November, I received an invitation to speak at the UK Nottingham Trent University on my work on puppetry and disability, during the Nottingham Puppet Festival
"Sure! Love to!" 
I was so excited that I nearly packed my bag that very moment. The real moment I was actually recovering on the couch from an hour on my scooter doing some shopping. 
And yet. And yet, I could see, and feel, the absolute possibility of this. That this is a perfect and logical next step in my life lived with illness/disability. My almost 20 year adventure has brought me to this, and I was not going to say no!

When I talked with Sean Myett, I started with "I do come with baggage. I can't travel alone, and I need to travel two days before the talk, and need to stay at least a day after."
"No problem!" 
I figured there was no point in talking in detail about this opportunity and then tell them my needs.

As it happened, this was only the start of it.
Since that day in November, I have also been invited as one of the Keynote speaker at the Broken Puppet 2: A Symposium on Puppetry and Disability Performance in Bath (UK)  2-day symposium exploring the ways puppetry and disability intersect to produce innovative art forms.

As they are three weeks apart, I looked at the possibility of staying in the UK, and making this a research opportunity. To meet with many other puppeteers. To share experienced with others in the field of puppetry and disability. To visit Puppet Place in Bristol, as Rachel Mc Nally called it, for a knowledge and skills exchange.  Bath Spa University Bath Spa University offered me a guest lecture for their Arts and Social Change Research Group, as well as conducting a workshop with Level 5 Drama undergraduates.

I can not say that I don't worry about this incredible beautiful adventure ahead of me. 
Daily, my mind goes from 'absolutely!', to 'what am I thinking?'.
But I know it is right. 
I know I can do it. With meticulous planning, and having support with me throughout these almost 4 weeks.

How lucky and grateful I am to be invited by these individuals and organisations. To be welcomed into their world. To be taken out of my creative solitude and be among people who speak my other language. The language of puppetry. And filtering in my two decades of life with illness/disability.  To share my creative journey. To higlight the challenges of living with M.E. To bring my previous experience as nurse and social care worker into the package. To share my new puppet designs which are more suited to my ability, not disability.

Life can be strangely beautiful, if not totally confusing!

I know when something is right. My body tells me. My legs tingle.
Also I know when all is well, is when all practical considerations are falling into place. With help, my accessible accommodation has been booked, so are flights and trains. Friends Jane and Marga are spending time with me to 'get me fed, watered, and around the place'. I only have few more support days to fill. Even (most) hotels were helpful in their communications with me. I have been brought shopping to add to my wardrobe. I am thinking and planning ahead, to make this dream come true.

It will. 

Thank you ALL who are making this possible,
and for the support I have alread received. 
(... legs are tingling as I wrote these last few words... )

10 bookmarks of the 'life outside the box' puppetry project

If you like to support me in this adventure, please buy this pack of ten bookmarks of the Life Outside the Box puppet project, with quotes from their makers. €10 including postage. Every little bit helps! Thank you.
Of course, any purchase from my webshop, will also goes toward my UK - Puppet- trip.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Share the gift of art and books for Christmas

Ahhh, it is that time of year again.
A time of giving.
A time of sharing.

If interested in any of the sculptures/tapestry/puppet on this page
or to purchase a gift vouchers
Please CONTACT Corina.

For books and prints, please use the link under the images.

All purchases will go towards further art and writing projects,
and to pay for support.

And 10% will go towards Barretstown 
Barretstown runs residential camps and programmes for children and their families 
affected by cancer and serious illness. 

"Desire" sculpture
40x16x34 cm - NOT for outdoor display!
€295 collected from studio. 
Cost of 
Courier delivery  depending on destination  
"Aerial" sculpture
58x20x15 cm - NOT for outdoor display!

€245 collected from studio. Preferably. 
(She is currently in 'foster care' but available.)
Cost of Courier delivery  depending on destination  
"Re-emerging" sculpture. 18x18x16cm
Due to the weight of the stone, it is only available by collection
NOT for outdoor display!

Tapestry "Trials and Trails" (can be displayed in two different ways)Tapestry size 16x14.5cm. With frame is 33x 35.5 cm. €100 collected;
€115, including registered post in Ireland. € 130, registered post rest of world.Unframed €50, €60, €65 respectively)

Cone-puppet. Watch this video to see a cone-puppet in “action”
The Puppet’s Movement is by way of pushing the stick up or down, and by gently rotating it. 

Like all my work, this is an original, the head and hands are made from clay.
Not a very young child’s toy!! 
€55 collected from my studio. €70 including registered post worldwide.
A4 - Into the Light prints- Choice of 24
From €12.50 p print, including postage, to 3 for €30

Books: from €5 upwards.
Flying on Little Wings; Snapshots; Into the Light;
Life Outside the Box

Distant Learning Puppet Making classes €120
Contact Corina for details

Giftvoucher available
Contact Corina for details

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Puppets on national television

Every three months, for just one minute, the Life Outside the Box puppets 

are to be seen on Irish National television, during the People's Angelus:

The one minute daily reflective Angelus broadcast on RTÉ One is one of Ireland's longest-running programmes, having been aired daily at 6.00pm since the inception of RTÉ television in 1962.
Ireland has changed enormously over that time and the nature of the broadcasts has changed with it. 
They are now changing again. Since October 2015 New commissioned films create a reflective space for all in the peak-time schedule…  In addition to these commissioned professional films, RTÉ One has designated one slot per week, on Fridays at 6pm, as The People’s Angelus slot.

Still from the Life Outside the Box film, with puppets playing music and dancing.
Still from the Life Outside the Box film
A year on from the project and I am still in awe with the responses to the project and film from the general public, the media, and anyone remotely interested in puppetry, disability, healing arts, creativity, or just a good story.

Thank you all!!

As you can read on the Puppet Blog, the Life Outside the Box project, which I facilitated with my then fellow members of the Irish Wheelchair Association, has been screened in Canada, in our local cinema, and will be screened during the Together! Festival in London on the 9th December. (2:45pm)

It also has also been the catalyst to give talks, and be invited to give future talks at puppet symposium (Cork), conference (Calgary, Canada) and festival (Nottingham).
It brought me back to teaching in my studio and via distant learning, and has been instrumental to the development of my own creative work, like the Reflection Project.

What a journey I am on, and what amazing company I have met along the way.

Still from the Life Outside the Box film, with puppet in front of disability box and beside a wheelchair
Johnny Dwyer, the Puppet Reporter of the Life Outside the Box Crew 

Friday, November 24, 2017

Great adventures from the confines of my house

Life can be curious.

The past month or so, I have been rarely outside the door.
Twice to go to hospital appointments, once to the library, and once to Dungarvan, two weeks ago. An hour buzzing around on my scooter through two shops. Sitting in a cafe waiting for my lift to bring me home again, I had a great difficulty to walk from the chair back to my scooter. About six steps?
It had taken many false starts to actually get out the door, so back on my couch at home, I was pleased I had done a 'normal' thing on a normal Saturday.

While in recovery mode, I received a message via Facebook from a lecturer at Nottingham Trent University to invite me to give a talk at a puppet festival in March ...
Sure! Great!
I nearly got up to pack my bags there and then.

page from Into the Light book by Corina Duyn with sculpture of a caggabe with a little head coming out.
The freedom of my mind...

I did wonder if my brain - my mind - is amazing, or deeply flawed ...

Here I was, ill from one hour on my scooter, a total of about two hours outside my house, and yet I did not see any difficulty with the prospect of going to the UK. Or even to Canada next summer. Another invitation to talk about my puppets...

I know I can do it. I know I can go to the UK. It does however require a lot of planning.
I made it to the family reunion in Holland during the summer. Tough on my health, but so worth it.

The journey the puppets are bringing me on, is just to amazing too dismiss.

Puppets, ME, Disability, health, are all part of my story. 

Although I rarely get outside the door, I am reaching people far beyond my wildest dreams. As if the strings of the puppets are bringing me out into the world again.

* There are contacts with some amazing women who, behind the scenes, are making the experience of life with ME in today's Ireland to the people who need to hear it: Politicians, HSE staff. Researchers, Hospital consultants, OT's, Social Welfare, the public who still believes we are just a little tired...
I am in awe of the power of this very small group. 

* Contacts too with other creatives, who encourage me to keep going. Who trust me to share with them the art of making puppets. Or trust in the creative process in general.

photo of raindrops under rosebuds, page from Into the Light by Corina Duyn
 * Contacts with readers of my books. For example an email from a mother of a young woman severely ill with ME.  ... As I try and motivate and stimulate K to use her sore eyes more, we started putting a new picture in her room each day for her to look at and enjoy. ...  we have been using a new nature picture from the Into the Light box each day.  Her favourite so far has been raindrops hanging from red buds. That one has stayed in her room well beyond its allotted day as she loves it so much... 

* Contacts with puppeteers from around the globe.

* Being supported by friends and family in all sorts of kind ways. Touching each other's lives. Learning from our varied stories.

* And being invited for a radio interview with Bernadette and Stan Phillips on their World in View program. Exactly a year since the interview during the Dis ability ... This Ability Exhibition, which perhaps was one of those pivotal steps in my own adventures of stepping out of the disability/illness box with the help of my puppets...

Listen to the interview here 

(about 15 minutes long)

And in the next few weeks there are more adventures, for which I do not have to leave my house.
  • I have a meeting with Senator Grace O'Sullivan to talk about ME, Disability and Puppets. Grace gave a very passionate talk at the Dis ability ... This Ability Exhibition exhibition last year.
  • On Friday 1st December Cora Fitzgerald's Cocoon Life Website will go live. And I have the honour to be their first guest with a (pre-recorded) podcast.  'Cocoon life is a website about inspiring Journeys, Life lived With Purpose'.
  • photo of Corina Duyn walking on the beach with walking sticks, feet in water. with quote: Taking ownwership of my reality was the first step towards my wellbeing.
    image /text for the Cocoon Life podcast recording
  • Also on Friday 1st December, the special version of the Life Outside the Box will be screened on Irish National television. RTE 1 6 pm, during the People's Angelus.
  • On the 8th December our puppet film will be shown during the Together! Festival in London.
  • I will be going out to meet prospective new readers during the Villierstown Craft fair Sunday 26th November!


So, although life can be hugely challenging at times, it is also amazingly rewarding. And curious.

Thank you ALL for coming along on my adventures through life.

I could not have done it without you.

Don't forget the sale which is on at the moment on my website and at my studio. 
And during the Villierstown Craft fair Sunday 26th November.
20% discount on books and prints during November, 10% during first two weeks in December.