Saturday, October 16, 2021

Puppet Making Course access details

As illness/ability are changing I have decided to make my PUPPET MAKING COURSE * free to access, although donations to help me fund my long term care needs are greatly appreciated. 


See Donate button at bottom of My Website page  Course currently charged at €40 for individual students. For licensed use in universities/ colleges/organisations, special rates apply and PDF’s can be requested for printing purposes.


A 50 minute video lecture is available on request. Fee in line with lecture fees of interested colleges/universities and other groups.

See also a summary of my work in the previous post. “23 year long creative history of living with M.E.” 

*This course material was created by Corina Duyn and draws on four decades of experience. It is for your personal use only. Please do not share this course content […]; Having followed this course does not mean you can teach this course using my material. […] Thank you for your understanding.

When I have the support to do so I also endeavour to publish my three remaining books for free on ISSUU. So, Stay tuned here on my blog for updates.




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

Following is a slightly edited ‘Welcome’ Document I used to email to new students. It contains all the needed information to create your own doll or puppet. PLEASE See webpage for a short summary of the course.  For links to more of my work in puppetry see: Puppetry webpage, or explore the many articles and images on this blog.


******

Welcome,


Thank you for registering for the Puppet Making Course created by © Corina Duyn.


The course consists of written and photographic instructions which can be viewed on ISSUU, as well as tutorial videos on Youtube. 


The links for all the course material are provided in this document (page), so please keep this safe.

If direct links to ISSUU do not work, please copy and paste the URL link, and preferably open in Google Chrome.


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


September 2019

(Edited version Made Public October 2021)


Website www.corinaduyn.com

Blog www.corinaduyn.blogspot.ie

Facebook art page https://www.facebook.com/CorinaDuyn

Youtube channel (tuition videos are not public as yet) https://www.youtube.com/user/flyingonlittlewings

Instagram www.instagram.com/corinaduyn

Email littlewings@corinaduyn.com


Corina Duyn © 2019 www.corinaduyn.com 




 Introduction and general information for your course:


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

  https://issuu.com/littlewings/docs/_introduction_to_puppet_making_with_corina_duyn


https://www.corinaduyn.com/site/puppet-making-course/


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




Body and Cross

https://www.corinaduyn.com/site/puppet-making-course/



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.

A final lecture video is being created for already booked lectures, mainly at Muñecoterapia, Chile. If you are interested to share this video in your courses, please email me for access details.


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 https://corinaduyn.blogspot.com/2021/08/it-was-beautiful-experience-to-hand.html

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:  https://corinaduyn.blogspot.com/2021/08/it-happened-on-late-late-show-1993.html A few other pieces of this era can be seen in the first slideshow on my webpage https://www.corinaduyn.com/site/creative-mind/ which chronicles my art. 


Shortly before illness changed my life I did a very big commission for Waterford Crystal: https://corinaduyn.blogspot.com/2016/11/waterford-crystal-blast-from-past.html

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: https://www.corinaduyn.com/site/creative-mind/ 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 https://www.corinaduyn.com/site/videos/ or YouTube. Funded by Arts and Disability Forum.
  • A version of this was also recorded for RTÉ (our national broadcaster) see https://youtu.be/eIq9MkAdZO4 . 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.: https://www.corinaduyn.com/site/hatched/ 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 https://youtu.be/6Hc1MPOHK64 This project was funded by Waterford County Council Arts Office.
  • In 2009 I wrote, illustrated and published  ‘Cirrus Chronicles’ https://www.corinaduyn.com/site/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 Wingshttps://www.corinaduyn.com/site/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. (http://www.corinaduyn.com/site/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 https://www.corinaduyn.com/site/creative-mind/ When able to sculpt again, I started using roots. Perhaps depicting a sense of being more grounded in my reality.


Puppetry:



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

In a nutshell: https://www.corinaduyn.com/site/puppetry-2/



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

Videos:



  • The Reflection Girls https://youtu.be/FrEW2vCDYmA 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. https://youtu.be/cYK3cAjbDwU
  • 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: https://player.vimeo.com/video/256275540



Exploring M.E. Through the ‘Octopus’





Podcasts about my journey with puppetry: 




Teaching puppet making 




Most recent documents and articles





Further reading/viewing:




Saturday, August 14, 2021

My first doll and puppet ever made

 It was a beautiful experience to hand over the little man in the basket yesterday to its new minder.



The cloth doll is obviously not my most amazing work, but perhaps the most significant. It is the first ever doll I made at the age of ten. Nearly 50 years ago.

I had already made a few dolls clothes by then on the singer sewing machine and also by hand. Some knitted. 



My parents were on holiday, not sure where my older siblings were, but in any case, I was staying with an aunt and uncle for a few weeks. Cycling to school every day. With the hep of my aunt I made this doll. It was the starting point of a life long doll making adventure. Initially using cloth, then paper mache heads, using a plastic mould and putting a nylon stocking over it. I started borrowing books from the library and learned more and more techniques. My mother following my lead. 



I made the first puppet at age 15, following the instruction of the first doll making book I bought. And still have.

The puppet body template, and some of the starting process of making the base of the head I still use in my online teachings tutorials.   I remember sitting at the dining table to cut the wooden body with tools my dad had given me for my previous year’s birthday. He passed away when I was 14.




Both these pieces are up for adoption. Email or message me if interested. 

Again, all funds raised are for future support, both living, and creatively.

The first doll’s clothes have faded a little over time when she was sitting on the window sill in my studio. Enjoying the morning sunshine. 


The clown puppet is a fully working marionette. Obviously my sculpting skills improved a great deal over the decades. But for a first attempt I am still quite proud of him. Including the detail in the clothing. 




Many thanks 




Wednesday, August 11, 2021

“It happened on the Late Late Show (1993)”

As I am continuing to let go of some of my artworks/creations, here is a piece I made around 1991 as part of my Fantasy Folk Artist Dolls business. I made many tiny little people. Each and every one a unique piece. Often with acorns, shells, or (clay) leaves as hat or clothing. All created in response to living in Dromana House in Villierstown, Co. Waterford at the time. A place steeped in history, folklore and surrounded by nature. 

All are sold - and found homes all over the world. This is one I kept.


This piece made its appearance, and received a special mention by Gay Byrne, on the Late Late Enterprise Show in January 1993. I have a video clip of it, one day I’ll figure out how to share it.

This appearance was very much the start of my public sharing and selling of my work.


My work at the Late Late Enterprise Show, January 1993




The egg shaped basket was made from local rushes, woven around a balloon. I learned the craft of basket making with rushes at the little church in Villerstown, and was told; “You can’t weave around a balloon!” I did it anyway. 30 years later it is still intact. 


This sculpture is in my room at present, looking out the window, but I have decided to let it find a new forever home. It is ready for adoption. 

If you are interested to purchase this piece, please send me an email, or personal message via Facebook/WhatsApp (if you are in my contacts) with your offer. Its chosen home will be at my discretion.

Collection from Waterford would be preferable, but (overseas) courier can be organised, but might take me a while to sort.


A few other dolls and puppets are currently stored by Jane who kindly handled the sorting out of my little home with huge dedication. These works will be up for adoption in the near future.

(Please stop by here another day…)


I also have some puppets in my new home; The Girls, Johnny Dwyer, and Jimmy. All stored in their boxes. I do tell them that one day they will see the light again. In what capacity I don’t yet fully know. Perhaps during the suggested exhibition here at Signacare of my work later in the year.


The funds raised from sales of this piece and others, will help me pay for practical support to make the intended video-documentary of my work. (See previous blogpost)


When my brain allows, I am editing two previous written lectures (Cork, and Chile) into one, and publish this on my blog, with links to youtube, website, podcasts etc. to give a ‘tour’ of my work created during illness. 


I have an offer of help with further editing of the video I made for Cork Puppetry Festival. The final video will have subtitles in English. Perhaps with subtitles also in Spanish and Dutch, but if not, then I do hope to have the written document available in those languages. But all in its own good time….!


Stay tuned


PS, I think the email notifications of new blogpost will cease at some point in the near future - or so google told me - so if you like to stay up to date, you probably have to take the initiative to see if I have anything new added. Many thanks for your support. As ever.


Friday, August 6, 2021

Change, acceptance and new creative opportunities

Big decisions followed by acceptance allow me to move forward. Again.


Maybe I will start working on my photo album cover again too…


After too many physical/mental challenges to create the video presentation for Cork Puppetry Festival, attend (briefly) 2 zoom meetings (Cork, and Chile), and being encouraged to be more part of the community here, I had to concede that I need to be much more in tune, respected, and clear in what I can and can no longer do. Unfortunately a lot less…


I will have to listen much better to what my body needs. And put expectations aside. My own, and from others.


Creatively I have made the decision that I will no longer do any online events. The physical collapses were just too scary to justify any further involvement in them.


However it was utterly beautiful and a huge honour to share my work, my stories, and to communicate with some amazing people over the years. 


I do realise that anyone who wants to hear, read, see my work, there is enough material out there. Over time I intend to create a list of links to talks, podcast, videos etc. and share it on my blog. (For now, there is lots on my website and blog, including links to videos and podcasts) Maybe I’ll extend last week’s video, but certainly not yet!


As always, when decision are made, and I fully accept them, in this case to withdraw from public online engagements, a beautiful opportunity arose.

In stead of giving I will be receiving. The universe as always heard me, and supported me.


Request for Assistance


Months ago I put a request in for Personal Assistance (PA) through Disability Services, in order to be able to explore life a little more outside my room, as well as receive support creatively. The application is in…. And as before, that is where it stayed. (Probably when it is granted, it is too late to be able to explore the world outside my room…)


Anyway. To find a way ‘out’ in the meantime, I put out a call in a private group of artist - and in a subsequent beautiful turn of  events I have very gratefully accepted one to one support through Waterford Healing Arts Trust. (WHAT)



My first contacts with WHAT was the invitation to give a talk in 2004



From next Thursday I will be collaborating with artist Caroline Schofield to see what and where and how my current abilities fit to continue to use my creative mind. As we talked on the phone yesterday we both acknowledged that this isn’t just me getting support, but it is very much a process for both of us. Hence using the word collaboration. 


I think this contact will also help me to start working on the embroidered tree again (See first image and here ) and other unfinished projects.


I now need to be horizontal a great deal of the time. Communicating is now only possible if I lay flat. This will also be the case for creative work. I imagine.


Initially there will be three sessions with Caroline. No idea what will happen, but after a phone call yesterday with the artist the Tree, and my Tree House will be central to our collaboration.


It has been a tough learning process. Again!


Time to rest, rest, rest, and then play.


Be well and much love.


Further reading: 

Thursday, July 29, 2021

Presentation at Cork Puppetry Festival 2021 (transcript)

Transcript * to my talk: ‘Living in the shadows of an Invisible Octopus’ at Cork Puppetry Festival 2021, as part of triple bill of three female Irish Shadow puppetry artist, 29 July 2021.

(*When available I will add a link to the video-presentation)




Thank you Cork Puppetry Festival 2021 for the invitation to share a short reflection on how decades of writing, art and puppetry ultimately led to the ‘Invisible Octopus’ project.

During a mentoring period with Puppet Master Dr. Emma Fisher in 2019/20 I was introduced to shadow puppetry which led to the video poem which I will show towards the end of my talk. This wonderful mentoring opportunity was funded by Arts & Disability Ireland. As my reality is ever changing I will explore in this talk where my creativity might bring me next.


Due to very limited energy and voice fading easily I am unable to give a live presentation. I have therefor prepared a written document over the past few weeks. I did voice recordings over a few days, some in my room, others in the library of the nursing home where I now live. The video poem is a previous recording. Hence the different sound quality in the video.

I illustrated the talk with shadow puppetry image and other related works.

I will make the transcript available on my blog, including links if you wish to explore my work further. 


I hope you will enjoy this reflection and I look forward to hearing from you during the  Questions and Answer sessions.



Background: Puppetry, me and M.E.


Although trained as a nurse and social care worker in my native Netherlands, it was a move to Ireland in 1989 which led me to become a full time working artist. My work centred around making one of Puppet and Artist Dolls under the name of Fantasy Folk.


In 1998 I taught marionette puppet-making in a group-home for teenagers. One young man of about thirteen sculpted a funny clown’s head. However when it came to making the hands, they were created as fists. I wondered if they express his true emotions, perhaps of anger or fear. This experience became the pivotal moment where I realised the power of art. The deepest fears, joys, wishes and challenges appear from our hearts, our minds, through our hands into our work.


Unfortunately, I did not get to finish the project with the young people as I became very ill with the neurological illness Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (M.E). Not to be confused with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.  In a very short time I lost the ability to look after myself, to walk properly, to sit up and talk, to remember, to read, to write, to prepare my food, or do even such simple tasks as open a tube of toothpaste. In terms of my work, I lost all finer skills to hold my tools and to manipulate the clay. The total lack of energy and being in constant pain made creating my dolls and puppets impossible.


However, I realised soon that my creative mind was not going to stop. It challenged me to find new ways to create and explore my totally altered existence. As a result, my creative output changed dramatically both in substance and intensity. Initially there were just quick drawings, mainly of eggs… and later birds. Over the following years I slowly regained to ability to sculpt again. I learned a great deal about life with illness, and life in general through my creativity. 


As I won’t have time to go through these works, I’d like to invite you to explore my website www.corinaduyn.com for a selection of the created works, published books, as well as lecture transcripts and videos of puppetry & disability talks. All explore the reality of illness, the good, the bad, and the beautiful as well as the improvements and subsequently decline again over the past two decades. 


Who is the hand that hold the cross?


One of the drawings in the early years of illness was that of a marionette puppet with a hand holding the cross. These words were scribbled over the image:




 “A puppet, not a great drawing, but…the puppet is me with M.E., I have little or no control over my body. WHO is the hand who keeps me upright, make me walk, make me move gracefully, or let me stumble at times, makes me stand my full length or let me buckle at the knees, makes the arms move or leave them hang like useless objects. Who is the hand that has control 

What is the hand that holds the cross and moves 'my' strings at its will.  

Can I become the hand over M.E., have control over me?  

Hand, whatever you do, don't drop me altogether, hold on, but stop playing tricks…”


At the time I had no idea how much this one image subconsciously influenced my puppetry related work more than a decade later.


Life Outside the Box, Disability Puppetry Project (More on the puppet blog)


During 2013, 15 years after becoming ill I became an active member of the Irish Wheelchair Association (An organisation in Ireland for people with physical disabilities, not just those using a wheelchair). My main reason was that I hoped I would get practical help with making my work. Experiencing yet again a decline in my health I could no longer knead or roll the clay to make my sculptures and puppets. However, the then centre coordinator asked if I could facilitate a puppet-making project with my fellow members. 

We applied and received funding from Create - Artist in the Community Scheme, funded by the Arts Council of Ireland. We started our project in summer 2014.  Our group consisted of twelve people with a variety of disabilities: acquired brain injury, Multiple Sclerosis, Polio, congenital birth defects, and M.E; ages 27 to 72. Over the course of eight months we created nine marionette puppets, a large ‘disability’ box, and a large hand to help us out of the box. I hadn’t realised at the time that this might be the hand in my drawing at the start of my illness. 


During this extended project I witnessed a shift in focus from disability to ability. We all explored how our disabilities challenged us, but over time found alternative ways to create our puppets. All puppets very much  had their own personalities, but none depicted their disabilities, indeed mine.  


Busy with our hands there was a great sense of ease to talk about our lives, our challenges and hopes. It was a safe place. Although the final outcome was a short film of our puppets - us - stepping out of the Disability Box, for me ‘Life Outside the Box’ represents pride, inclusiveness, freedom and empowerment. The benefits went beyond the making. We celebrated our Ability. See puppet page on my website for links to this project including the short film we created.



Further work


Although I stopped attending the IWA Outreach centre in 2016, ‘Life Outside the Box’ lived on. Emma Fisher and Laura Purcell-Gates referenced to it in their research paper “Puppetry as reinforcement or rupture of cultural perceptions of the disabled body”.  This led to the invitation by Emma to give a talk at the first Broken Puppet Symposium in 2017 during Cork Puppet Festival. I suddenly found myself in a beautiful and astonishing world I did not know I was part of. I was made more aware of how puppetry can bring awareness to living with illness or disability. I have since researched this topic and have been fortunate to be invited to give talks worldwide about my experiences.


I created some further puppets exploring my own reality of ill health and disability. The main puppets created were ‘The Reflections Girls’ marionettes and wheelchair top puppet ‘Póilin’.





However as the illness continued to challenge me and my creative abilities with rapid decline, I am now no longer able to sculpt my puppets. To explore a way forward, I asked Emma Fisher to mentor me in 2019 through an Arts and Disability Award. Working on what became the ‘Invisible Octopus’ project inexplicably forced me to examine and establish the truth about what is my normal. It was a hugely confrontational and yet beautiful time. I learned a great deal more than the aim of the mentoring, to write a script with my puppets in the leading role. (Again see my blog for articles about this time).


During our first face-to-face mentoring the word ‘shadow’ triggered a memory of a book I had been working on years ago. A fictionalised story about my great grandmother’s spirit whose presence I felt on my body like the tentacles of an octopus. I lived in her shadow. “The Shadow of an Invisible Octopus”. This sensation is relatable to the experience of M.E.; the hard to describe, changeable neuropathic pain; the feeling of something invading my body; the many cognitive problems; and not being in control of my movements, of my life. As if an invisible hand holding the cross of a marionette is animating the strings attached to my body. During the process of thinking, writing and discussing my intended film project, the octopus became this hand.





After designing an Octopus glove-puppet to bring this feeling to life, it was actually shadow puppetry which proved to be the most powerful medium to tell my story. 


During the last mentoring day in October 2019 Emma introduced me to the use of an overhead projector. She attached a small screen to the bed-end of my profiling bed (a hospital-type bed) and placed the projector on a bed-tray standing over my legs. Totally wedged in I was breathing life into a whole new world, playing with light and shadows, movement and stillness. 


I experienced the beauty of creating a mini world with herbs from my garden and marvelled at the possibility to change the colour of the light on the screen through movement of hands under the source of light. While gently moving a paper puppet in a wheelchair over the ‘grass’ made from fennel leaves, we had a shadow of Octopus appearing in this tranquil scene. As it slowly encroached over the puppet, it pushed her about, lifting her up in the air and dropping her, wheelchair and all. Changing tranquility  into chaos. Just like the illness does…


As I realised how shadow puppetry could bring me renewed creative freedom, I sourced own overhead projector. It was set up in such a way that I could access it without the need of support. This was a hugely liberating feeling as with almost all my other creative work, including the making of the glove puppet Octopus, and trial recordings of the proposed short film, I needed a lot of practical support. 




With shadow puppetry I realised that I was able to cut small paper puppets, birds and other images while lying in my recliner or in bed. Using the overhead projector with each tiny movement of my puppets I was able to create instant stories. 

I may be trapped in my body, but on the screen I can fly with the birds. I can express what it feels like to be ‘knocked out of my wheelchair by the ‘Invisible Octopus’. I can deal with the frustrations of being on the receiving end of a failing healthcare system. I can share the feeling of being housebound, in pain, as well as the poignancy of depicting resting in the healing energy of my garden.

The starkness of the black and white imagery leaves nothing to the imagination. This is it. This is my realty. No frills, Nothing dressed up to make it look sweet or beautiful. 


The power of possibility is immense.

I decided to develop the ‘Invisible Octopus’ poem I had created as narration for the intended film and one day make a short animation using shadow puppetry…


As I realised, puppetry forced me to look deep into my reality. Poetry defined the experience. As in this abstract from my poem


M.E. as Invisible Octopus 

acting as puppeteer 

keeping me upright 

or making me stumble at will 


inflicting pain 

challenging my brain 

its crushing weight

taking my breath away


The animation of the poem was much more complicated than I anticipated. As I can only work for a few minutes at the time. At times only one session a day, it would perhaps take me a year to make the animation the way it had formed in my mind.

But, one day, I put a voice recording and twelve shadow puppetry images I had chosen for an exhibition together and suddenly I had a version of my animated poem. It took all of ten minutes to create this piece of work which I feel encompasses my 22-year long journey into 2.2 minutes...

I felt at the time that this work was the last of my creative explorations of life with M.E.


The responses to this video-poem have been beyond my wildest dreams. It has been shown at film, puppetry as well as a poetry festivals. The poem will be published in a Dutch anthology. Reading the reactions to my work I realised that many of us have an ‘Octopus’ in our lives. 

https://youtu.be/nXlq4QiR11c



Big Changes


Over the past two years I had to accept that ‘Octopus’, my illness, has greater power over my life than I ever wished to imagine. December last I conceded that I needed more care. It was no longer possible and safe to live independently at home, even with seven day care. At the end of April I moved into a nursing home. It broke my heart and yet it is right.


So far my creativity has been dormant. (If one excluded making my room my home). The occasional creative spark happens. But I lack the needed energy. But maybe I am also afraid to let the power of my creative mind help me deal with the immense changes I am dealing with. I am becoming more ill. I am loosing so many more abilities, like the simple things of chewing food, or sitting up for any length of time. Even communication can be severely affected of late. I need soo much more personal and practical care. I lost my beloved home and garden, and with that a level of independence. Maybe, just maybe it was ‘safer’ to not have to confront all these realities through my art. As yet.

For now, I am hiding in plain sight. Living in the shadows of Octopus. But as carer Daniel said, ‘if you don’t do your art you crumble away altogether…’

How true.


My projector is outside my door in the hallway, my shadow images are in the drawer at easy access. My iPad, pen and notebook are also within reach. One day I will be brave enough and find the necessary energy to explore ways to create again. To continue to delve deep into my mind and share my world with all whom have followed and supported me with such deep interest during the years of illness.


Although I have used many forms of creativity over the past two decades, I believe puppetry has been the most confronting and at the same time healing art form of all. With shadow puppetry the most powerful. Hopefully my story will continue through and into the shadows.



Many thanks for your interest in my work and thank you Cork Puppet Festival. By inviting me to give this talk, they have possibility reignited the created spark, and made me evaluate how I came to this point in my creative life.



Further reading/viewing: