Saturday, December 17, 2022

Six hundred days

Six hundred days ago I moved into long term care and I ‘brought the dream of flying’

Corina Duyn in wheelchair holding sunlight in her hand In conversation with my co-artist Caroline Schofield  Photo © Keith Currams
In conversation with my co-artist Caroline Schofield 
Photo © Keith Currams

I wake early and revel in the silence. I open the curtains and see the world awaken. The trees, birds, early squirrels. One of my favourite moments before the inevitable noises start in the hallway from staff, doors, and various televisions at volume. In those early mornings I imagine my home, my  Treehouse * to be unrelated to be in a nursing home. What Home means remains a very complicated question. 

After my daily bowl of readybrek reality sets in. I often listen to meditative music, through headphones if necessary, especially on days when I am a bit ‘frazzled’ about the prospect of the day ahead. I know the signs by now after 600 days living in a residential home.  The day can be caring, chaotic, safe, kind, restrictive, fun, fearful, unsettling, sad, happy, bewildering, finding acceptance and gratitude, as well as thought provoking moments due to the closeness of fragility and beauty of life around me and in me. It seems I am still learning to find my way, but ultimately know that I have to ‘get this’.


As my short day ends I watch the crows gather for the night. Every day a few minutes earlier. Headphones on to silence the noises of the house my thoughts go deep. It is at those moments I feel I need to write to make sense of life as it is right now. But writing on paper is not possible anymore beyond a few words. I scribble on my phone at times, creatively processing my experiences but as screen time is overwhelming my phone is often turned off. The words I did write/dictated are copied to my iPad however words jump around in a dizzying way and sadly I lose track in order to edit and make sense of the notes. Yet I keep telling myself to write that blogpost about what it is like to live here. I started so many times but realise that each day each minute it would be a different story. Anyway. I am here. It is going to take me a while. But I am going to do this and will, as usual, be explored through my creative mind. The writing perhaps a little frazzled and fragmented like my present jumbled brain.

“I identify deeply with my work especially my puppets. 
Creating them is one thing. By fully observing them
 I am learning to understand their true stories and thus my own.”

Puppet with black hat lying under orange blanket asleep. Hands folded. Corina Duyn
‘Miracle Miracle’ 
© Corina Duyn 2018-2022

Miracle Miracle 

In a roundabout way of dealing with the reality of also needing help to make a Christmas/Winter display for my room, I found my mind delving into the story of my puppet Miracle Miracle resting under the (Christmas) tree.

When I started making her in 2018 she was to tell a story of an ambulant wheelchair user. Perhaps her chair being pushed by a gay carer with a blue Mohican haircut. Throwing off her blanket she steps out of her wheelchair and with the help of her walking sticks takes off on her colourful roller skates. Revealing funky clothes. 

I had hoped to use puppetry to explore social perception and disadvantage but also resilience. Most of all challenge how you are are to behave as a disabled person. If you use a wheelchair, you are not suppose to stand up. “Miracle Miracle” a dear friend roared in fun a few decades ago when I did just that. Standing up from my wheelchair in front of a church. Miracle Miracle’s story was never properly told except the concept during my last public lecture in 2018 in Cork.  

Miracle Miracle came with me to Signacare; unpainted, undressed, just wearing a little black hat (toe part of sock) and wrapped in her orange blanket. She had been sitting with Póilin Puppet in my window on the bench looking into the garden. I always hoped to finish making her.


In March after a short spell in hospital I started stitching a long cloth. “Sewing the tears of exhaustion” I scribbled on a piece of paper. Stitching brought peace. Over the following months it told a story of drowning, reaching out and becoming the tree. I stopped sewing at the point a branch became a bird. It narrowly escaped to be binned, choosing to put it in my sewing drawer instead. In July one Sunday afternoon I took it out, folded it up, reincarnated as a magic flying carpet for Miracle Miracle. I was happy to see a new story appearing from two unfinished works.  

Lying on my dresser Miracle Miracle looked at peace at having given up her fight for social justice to look after herself and rest. Only covered by a thin blanket. Unpainted, undressed. But beautiful as she is. To be carried in the wind to dream worlds where life is simpler. Still wearing her roller skates she shows resilience in her vulnerability as a dear friend told me.

It took me almost five months of observing her resting on her flying carpet to come to the point I acknowledged that I too am ready to let go and am desperately in need of rest. 


Staff at times have limited ability to truly be Present so I am very grateful for the support of family and friends. I also have the great fortune to receive outside support from a Personal Assistant (PA) twice a week through Disability Support Services (as I am deemed inappropriately placed in nursing home care due to my age), as well working with artist Caroline Schofield through Waterford Healing Arts Trust. Both women have made living here much more doable. 

With co-artist Caroline Schofield in the elevator 
at Signacare - retrieving puppet props
Photo © Caroline Schofield 2022

The collaborative creative process with artist Caroline Schofield started in August 2021. (See exhibition press release *).  Finding our way of working together began with making stunning prints using leaves. Many of these made their way, together with paper cut outs of shadow puppetry * era into a series of art boxes. Dioramas if you wish. Many depicting loss, grieve and gain of moving into care. Perhaps these works which will be in the exhibition say more than the written word ever can. 

I tried very hard not to use our creative time to explore this epic move but my mind wouldn’t let it go until it was done. Now I can say that I am glad it worked out this way. Work evolved by communicating about the pieces and stories in progress. Until there is this ‘Yes!, this is it’ moment. Caroline was/is my hands to add the detail about which I could only think and tried out with blue tack or masking tape. 

Some of this series of small boxes have taken a year to complete. Along the way we had tears, laughter, wonderment, friendship, and learning, evolving into an exhibition. 

I brought the dream of flying

One of these ‘boxes’ became the title of this shared exhibition: ‘I brought the dream of flying’ Opening 14th January 2023 at Gallery of Modern Art - GOMA Waterford, with amazing support of Waterford Healing Arts Trust and Creative Waterford.

When I came for respite 600 days ago - but never went home again -  I had brought an unfinished bird puppet with me. I felt that by finishing the piece, which had one broken wing, it would be a symbol that I would fly again. I and others had truly hoped that moving into care would restore my health to some degree. Including recovering my lost creative abilities. For this hope and dream I brought my clay and all the tools. Not used for four years now, I am ready to let go of them.  

My creative ability is ever evolving at the same pace of my physical decline. I lost lots of weight over the past two years. As well as more and more of my independence. Food is puréed as I can’t chew or swallow for long. I now have a powerful fully reclining wheelchair. Walking is a few steps to the bathroom. Not even every day. My hands, although the dancing motions are a fascination to my co-artist, they often don’t want to do what I would like them to do. Creatively and in general. Recently my body goes ‘numb’ for hours. Followed by slow return of movement and speech and precious moments of the Phoenix rising again, Especially when I have an outing with my PA, those moments are lived and loved with all my heart. Then I rest. Like Miracle Miracle. In those moment of rest, even in the ‘numbness’, my creative mind stays alive. Thinking, planning. Re-thinking. Re-planning. 

I can cut paper and I can glue. The result is a series of A5 collages from newspaper words and found images, which I can make independently, often lying flat in bed. Exploring emotions and realities of life (here). As friends have said: “you needed to write, you couldn’t, now you found your way”; another said “you are writing a visual diary”. Many will be in the exhibition.


“In bed I cut words until I can rest in a world 

where loss and pain live alongside beauty and hope”

Collage © Corina Duyn 2022

Although the exhibition is a huge event for me mentally and physically it is a true honour to have this team of people believing in my work and a story they felt needed to be told. A team of creative professionals looking after everything. Wow. A first.


I feel I am finally reaching moments of being at peace with it all. Letting go of the ‘idea of home’. Letting go of this part of my story as well as my work, old and new. Especially after the exhibition I hope to feel my ‘job is done’. My advocacy having continued although I didn’t intended to do that. I hope I can be at peace and find ease with living in long term care doing so in undoubtedly a beautiful room. My Treehouse. Rest. Rest in the knowledge and acceptance that this is what I had to do. Moving into care and one last sharing of life with illness and this new perspective of life in care through the arts. A first perhaps.

Thanking you with much gratitude for your continued support.

Corina Duyn
17 December 2022 

Links for further reading:

Saturday, November 19, 2022

‘I brought the dream of flying’ exhibition at GOMA

 So rarely here, but I have some big news to share

‘I brought the dream of flying’ 
Corina Duyn 2022. Photo by Caroline Schofield

Corina Duyn & Caroline Schofield exhibition at GOMA. Supported by Waterford Healing Arts Trust, GOMA, and Creative Waterford

I brought the dream of flying…, a new exhibition by artists Corina Duyn and Caroline Schofield, will take place at GOMA Gallery of Modern Art, Waterford from 14 January to 11 February 2023.  Inspired by a broken-winged bird puppet which accompanied Corina when she moved to full-time nursing home care last year, the exhibition features work made in response to this move and illustrates the new collaborative creative process Corina has developed with Caroline as a result of her increasing disability.  A short tour of the exhibition, led by artist Pascale de Coninck, will take place at 2pm on Saturday 14 January, followed by the official opening at 3pm.  The exhibition is presented by Waterford Healing Arts Trust and GOMA, with funding from Creative Waterford.  Further details are available from and



Wednesday, May 18, 2022

The Power of the Puppet lecture video

My apologies for rarely showing up here. I do write occasionally a short reflection on my Facebook page:

Today there was a longer post, which might be of interest:

The Power of the Puppet” Video-Lecture is now available on  High resolution. In English, with Spanish and English, and Dutch subtitles. ** 

Or on Arts+Health website :  with this introduction:

 “The Power of the Puppet is a video lecture by Corina Duyn documenting her 23 year long creative journey through chronic illness. The lecture focuses on her puppetry work.

Corina trained as a nurse and social care worker in her native Netherlands before moving to Ireland in 1989. An artist and puppet designer, Corina has been exploring the internal landscape of illness in her work since she was diagnosed with Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (M.E.) in 1998.

This video was initially created in 2021 for the Puppetry Therapy Diploma at the Muñecoterapia in Chile where Corina’s work forms part of their lecture series.

Here is a blog  with links to most of Corina’s work for those wanting to know more about the art and story in the video.

In English with Spanish (Translated by Myli Pincheira V. ) and English subtitles. Dutch subtitles added, translation by Rob Wijbenga. With thanks.

Thank you Emma from for embedding the lecture in their video archives. And the continued support from Puppets InTransit  Andrea and Polo. And Emma Fisher for helping me to Create the video.

The lecture is 49 minutes long. My voice and images of my work, mainly that of exploring ME through puppetry. All in small sections so can be watched in snippets.

** For those with ME and extreme sound sensitivity, there is only one section with music in the “Life Outside the Box” puppet project I facilitated in 2015. This section is 14 minutes in, lasting about 4 minutes.

The rest is just my (soft) voice. There is no fast moving imagery, except briefly in the “Life Ouside the box” video.

As there are subtitles throughout, the sound can be turned off completely if you wish.

(Image is screenshot of the video - puppet in a wheelchair in the garden)

Saturday, October 16, 2021

Puppet Making Course access details

October 2021 - further edits 13 February 2023

Online Puppet making course with Artist and Puppet Designer Corina Duyn. After more than 50 years of learning and three decades of teaching, Corina is no longer able to create puppets, or teach. However she made the decision to share all the very detailed course instructions publicly via 2.5 hours of Youtube videos, and four online books with in total 85 pages with step-by-step written and photographic instructions books (ISSUU). These are for both basic and more advanced puppets. Learn how to sculpt a clay head, hands and feet for a puppet with DAS self hardening clay. How to make a wooden or cloth puppet body, assembling instructions, and suggestions on painting, and dressing/hair.  As well as two cross samples, how to string up your puppet and animate it. Sculpting instruction also applicable to create a doll, or bust. 

Please note that all the material was created during a time Corina was still teaching, so any comments to ‘get in touch’ is no longer applicable. It course is for your personal use only. Having followed this course does not mean you can teach this course using my material. Thank you for your understanding.

 I hope you will enjoy embarking on this creative adventure. When your puppet is complete I love to see images of it. With every best creative wish.

Corina Duyn 2019/2023 Corina Duyn © 2019 

Course access made public October 2021 - further edits February 2023.

For links to more of my work in puppetry see: Puppetry webpage, or explore the many articles and images on this blog, including: 50 minute video lecture on the Power of the Puppet  is available on HERE And See summary of my work in “23 year long creative history of living with M.E.” 



Youtube channel



Two girl puppets made by Corina Duyn - Puppet Making course
‘The Girls’ © Corina Duyn 2017

COURSE DETAILS General Overview: ISUUU books   And YouTube videos 

In detail: 

Introduction and general information for your course:

  • Please read: Introduction and general guidelines in the 7 page document on ISSUU

In my course I recommend the use of white DAS air drying clay as other brands have different drying properties and may shrink too much which causes problems. DAS is very strong and can be used to sculpt very fine details.

Sculpting the Head

The videos and ISSUU documents are interchangeable between using glass eyes and creating sculpted eyes. I suggest you watch, and read both at each step of the sculpting process. The (2.04) indicate length of the videos Please make sure to watch the Youtube videos in HD

Hands and Feet: 

The videos and ISSUU books are interchangeable I suggest you watch, and read both at each step of the sculpting process. The (2.04) indicate length of the videos. Please make sure to watch the Youtube videos in HD. For a master class on these, please contact my mentor and teacher Marlaine Verhelst.

Body and Cross

Painting and clothing/hair suggestions:

Sunday, September 5, 2021

23 years long creative history living with Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (M.E.)

My dear followers.

At the end of 2020 I felt strongly that the ‘Invisible Octopus’ video poem was my last work exploring my then 22 years of life with the disabling chronic illness Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (M.E.). 
After my move into full time care (April 2020) and several online lecture events, I made the decision that it is time to retire from public engagement regarding my life and work. Including to take a step back from advocacy for better care and understanding of this so much contested illness. 
It has been a long, continuing, journey.

I truly hope that over the years my work brought an understanding of hidden illnesses to a wider public. As my journey has been well documented over the years, by myself, but also by many others, I hope that my work will live on. 

This blog post with links to my books, art, talks, podcast and videos has been created for this purpose. I have broken up the sections to reflect on significant creative times. So you can just go to the section you’d like to read or hear more about.

EDIT April 2022: A final lecture video has been made mainly about my puppetry and disability related work, initially for  Muñecoterapia, Chile. It is now made public it has English and Spanish subtitles. Thanks to Emma Fisher and Myli Pincheira.

To continue to access my creative mind I have gratefully accepting support from Waterford Healing Arts Trust. (WHAT). On a one-to-one basis I am gently exploring ways to create in the comfort of my room at Signature Nursing home. I am also doing some personal projects like my scrapbook photo album.
Many, many thanks to all whom have supported me. I could not have done this without you. I will update my blog, or my personal Facebook page (link at bottom)  if there is something I like to share with you. 
Be well.
With much gratitude. 

Corina, September 2021

 Early years, and Fantasy Folk

Always have been creative in one way or another. I made dolls clothes, drawings, messed around with clay. At the age of ten I made my first doll. Age fifteen, my first puppet. Read more

These two pieces were among many experiments in doll making during my teens while still living in my native Netherlands. During my late teens and until age 27, I studied and worked as nurse and social care worker. I remained creative and made various dolls and puppets. 

Moving to Ireland in 1989 saw the start of my creative career as full time Doll Artist with my company Fantasy Folk. This little sculpture from this time and even made it onto tv: A few other pieces of this era can be seen in the first slideshow on my webpage which chronicles my art. 

Shortly before illness changed my life I did a very big commission for Waterford Crystal:

I also did some teaching in a group home for teenagers. It was there that I became fully aware of the immense power of the arts. 

Illness changed my (creative) life (1998)

I became ill with Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (M.E. - in some countries unfortunately referred to as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome CFS, or ME/CFS ) in summer 1998. It totally changed my life, including my creative ability and output. I could no longer sculpt, hold my tools, or have the energy to do anything for longer than a few minutes. Yet my creative mind would not stop. As a result I unwittingly created a visual diary of my utterly changed life.

  • Images from the early years of illness can be see on my art page: Initially the theme was eggs, birds, and flight. 
  • In 2003 Artist David Begley recorded a short documentary about my creative life with illness: ‘Fit to Fly’ see or YouTube. Funded by Arts and Disability Forum.
  • A version of this was also recorded for RTÉ (our national broadcaster) see . They came to film again in 2018. These two segments are in the one video. With kind permission from RTÉ.

Books and art

  • In 2006 I wrote, designed and published my first book ‘Hatched - a creative journey through M.E.: The book is out of print but can be read for free, see page for link. It has very short poems and images of the first seven years of illness.
  • Katie Lincoln recorded the accompanying short documentary ‘Flight Path’  see This project was funded by Waterford County Council Arts Office.
  • In 2009 I wrote, illustrated and published  ‘Cirrus Chronicles’ a local fairy tale for all ages. Supported by an Artlinks Bursary.
  • In 2011 it created a tiny book called ‘Flying on Little Wings with images and wisdom from the birds.
    • Both can be read via links on the relevant webpages.
  • The biggest book project I undertook during 2013-2015 was my Artist Book in a box: ‘Into the Light. ( It was a response to doing a year of Disability Studies, my subsequent reading and research. The format - loose page in a box, came about during one of my retreats at Dzogchen Beara. 
  • This project was made possible through a Rehab grant; a small publishing grant from Waterford Arts Office, as well as a very successful crowd funding. Many thanks to all involved. Book Launched by Michael Harding, and Sr. Stan.
  • Some of my Art created during those years can be found in the slideshows When able to sculpt again, I started using roots. Perhaps depicting a sense of being more grounded in my reality.


From 2015 my creative life was invaded, and dictated by puppets. It transformed my life and art and am forever grateful!

In a nutshell:

I explored puppetry, disability and health in more detail. This led to the creation of The Girls, Póilin, ‘Dance of Life’.


  • The Reflection Girls exploring the reality of my disabled body through my reflection in the mirror.
  • Póilin came about to explore a ‘wheelchair-top-puppet’ as I could no longer handle my marionette puppets. This is a video of Póilin and our Travels to the UK. Póilin’s travels with M.E.
  • I created a small set of two animation figures which I called the The Dance of Life, however I have not yet been able to create the full video. This snippets gives the idea:

Exploring M.E. Through the ‘Octopus’

Podcasts about my journey with puppetry: 

Teaching puppet making 

Most recent documents and articles

Further reading/viewing: