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:


Therese Doherty said...

What an extraordinary journey you have been on, Corina. Your creativity and advocacy will certainly live on. You have already inspired and informed so many people, including me. Thank you. Much love. <3

Corina Duyn said...

Many many thanks Therese.
Stay creative and well.