Thursday, January 16, 2020

Portrait of an Artist: Corina Duyn. By Donal Buckley

 Artist Donal Buckley writes a weekly column in the Dungarvan Observer about fellow artists, writers and crafts people living in our area. I had the honour to chat with him last week. 
We talked for a long time about all things creative, and about the challenges and opportunities while ill. He is a pure gentleman.

Donal kindly forwarded the transcript so his words are available to many.
Thank you Donal.

 Portrait of an Artist: Corina Duyn

Corina Duyn is a beautiful lady. From her gentle smiling eyes to the tips of her tapered fingers, honed by years of creativity, she is loveliness personified.  Corina also has Myalgic Encephalomyelitis, or ME for short. This is a complex and disabling condition that still isn't fully understood nor is research in to this illness sufficiently funded. In spite of all this, Corina Duyn is not defined by her condition. She considers it to be another path whose obstacles she must try to cope with in life. It is where she has encountered new experiences and met new and interesting people. I went to meet her at her home in Lismore, a cottage overlooking the Blackwater Valley. Over a cup of coffee and a chocolate croissant we chatted about the world and art.  

Which artist do you admire and who inspires you the most?

Emma Fisher is a theatre set and costume designer who also has a Doctorate in Puppetry and Disability from Mary Immaculate College in Limerick. She designs and makes puppets as well as creating animation. As a puppeteer she has produced and performed in many theatres being nominated and winning awards in several categories. Emma set up "Beyond the Bark" puppet and installation theatre in 2007. Much of her work is centred around the Limerick area with Limerick Youth Theatre, The Belltable Arts Centre, Saint Mary's Cathedral and Bottom Dog Theatre Company among others.

What are your reading habits?

A book which made a big impact on me and learning to live well with illness is by American author Julia Cameron who collected various tips and hints from artists and writers to help other artists with artistic block, disability or recovery. She put these tips and hints into book form and tried to have it published. She was turned down. She decided to publish the book herself by typing and xeroxing several copies and selling them at the local bookstore. It became so popular that a publisher, who would eventually become Penguin Books gave her a contract and sold millions of copies worldwide. The Book was originally called "Healing the Artist Within" but was re-titled "The Artists Way" in 1992 before it went global. It has helped many people, including myself, with self confidence and harnessing creative talents and skills.

Are there any particular colours you like to work with?

I have a great love and appreciation for nature, which is the inspiration in my life and often features in my creative work. I prefer all the colours that occur in nature. Whether its the blue of the sky, the greens and browns of foliage or the silver of seas and rivers, they are best seen in their natural state. 

Do you like listening to any particular music?

Any kind of gentle meditative music sounds good to me, at this particular time in my life. If I had to pick just one specific piece of music it would be the classical "Stabat Mater" by Giovanni Battista Pergolesi. He wrote it in the final days of his life in 1736 and the manuscript in his hand writing is preserved to this day. He wrote the final notes before he died of tuberculosis at a Franciscan monastery in Italy. 

Where is your favourite place?

If you go to the Beara Peninsula in West Cork and carry on past Castletown-Bearhaven towards Lambs Head, you will see a group of buildings high on a cliff. This is called Dzogchen Beara and is a tranquil retreat created byPeter Cornish which follows the Tibetan Buddhist tradition. He wrote about it in his book "Dazzled by Daylight". It is set in a beautiful natural environment with stunning views. It also has a Spiritual Care Centre that offers support to those suffering grief, life limiting illness, coping with disability or burnout though it is open to anyone. Its a pretty, positive and peaceful.(and that's just the letter"P"). There is an energy here combined with the magnificent scenery that is conducive to the healing process.


     Its difficult to pin Corina Duyn to a particular creative genre. She is an artist, a designer, a writer, a puppet maker, a lecturer in puppetry and disability. Her latest diversification is in to the field of shadow puppets. It is a very accessible art form which gives her the scope to explore and share the experiences of ilness Her education gives no indication of her vocation as she studied Nursing and Social Care.      

       Corina was born between Amsterdam and the coast of the Netherlands(she won't tell me when). From an early age she showed a flair for creativity by making her own rag doll at the age of ten. She arrived in our midst in 1990 when she made her home in Lismore. Before, during and after her diagnosis with M.E., Corina was and is a leading light in our arts community. She has featured  on tv and radio with such notables as Padraig Naughton, Sister Stan and Sean O'Rourke. She also featured on the Nationwide programme which can be seen on YouTube along with a video on the launching of her book "Into the Light" among others. Other books in her repertoire are "Hatched", "Cirrus Chronicles" and "Flying on Little Wings". In 1996 Corina was commissioned by Waterford Crystal to create a miniature representation of their factory floor. She has given talks on puppetry and disability to students in the UK and Irelnd, as well as Brazil and Chile via Skype. Corina Duyn hasn't succumbed to her disability but increased her capabilities.

         Should you wish to view any of Corina's video's, buy her books or find links to other aspects of her creative life, you can go to where you will find all the information you need and contact options. Because she is saddened and frustrated by the lack of care for M.E., Corina is one of seven women advocates for M.E. sufferers in Ireland . The M.E.A.I. is a national advocacy group that lobbies for better facilities and conditions for the many people with this illness in the country. 

        I could so easily fill many more pages on the extraordinary life of this exceptional woman, but for now I will rest my case for the beautiful lady with the beautiful mind. 
I will leave you with her favourite quote, from American Singer/Songwriter Kris Delmhorst, "I don't want to rip the skies wide open, I just want my song to be heard". Corina Duyn, I hear you, and I thank you. 

© Donal Buckley, published in the Dungarvan Observer, 17 January 2020, page 46
 (although newspaper comes out on Wednesday's, this week 15th January.)

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