Wednesday, February 28, 2018

How hard does one have to fight to be heard

Beware this is a post about disappointment.
About the feeling to always have to fight for support.
About feeling gutted, and NOT be heard by an arts organization.
About always trying to find ways to live the best live I can.
Regardless of M.E.

I don't give up.
But I need support 
to live
to survive
to progress creatively.

Throughout twenty years of illness/disability 
I continue to learn.
And share my experiences.

I love life.
Even though I have to plan every single day 
in the tiniest segments 
to make my (creative) life happen.
And am digging SO deep (mentally and physically) 
to follow up on the amazing opportunities 
which have been presented to me.

What am I talking about?

Well, as you might have read/heard my puppetry work 
has taken me out of twenty years of (almost) creative solitude. 
It is hugely exciting.

I requested funding through an arts funding organization, 
to support me during this four week long opportunity.
To be able to 
Share and Learn.
have just heard that I have been unsuccessful. 
A very generic letter was forwarded to me:

I was invited to talk at the Broken Puppet Symposium last year. This has lead to the opportunities in the UK starting in a few weeks.  In brief, I have been invited to give talks about puppetry, disability & health  at the Nottingham Puppet Festival. The Broken Puppet has their second symposium in Bath, where I have been invited as keynote speaker. In between these two opportunities I get to meet other artists and puppeteers. See more HERE

Don't get me wrong. 
I am not looking for easy hand outs here.
And, I have been unsuccessful with applications in the past. And with some I was successful.
The rejections this time however is hitting me deeply.
VERY deeply.

I feel (maybe unjustified, I don't know) that this is a rejection on the very journey I have undertaken to make life with M.E. bearable, and even fun. 
A rejection as an artist with a disability. 
A rejection as an artist who lives with M.E., which is so often still not seen as real. 

I have learned so much and have taken the opportunity to share what I have learned via my books, my art and this very blog. And recently sharing my work in a more hands-on way. Through facilitating puppet making workshops. 
Which is a beautiful journey. 
But is a huge challenge on my physical wellbeing. But my mental state is as important as my physical well-being.  And that is Also the experience I hope to share during my talks in the UK...

A few of the notes from my application:
  • At this pivotal junction in my artistic career as a disabled artist, writer, puppet maker and facilitator, I have been invited as Keynote speaker at the 'Broken Puppet' (2) Symposium on Puppetry & Disability, and give lectures & and workshops at Nottingham Trent University during the Nottingham Puppet Festival, and Bath Spa University. 
  • 'Puppet Place' in Bristol, whom is developing a knowledge base within applied puppetry, invited me to exchange knowledge and practical skills with their artists.
  • All explore the intersection of the art of puppetry and disability;  how this can produce innovative art forms, and bring disability into the minds of a wider audience through the creative arts. 
  • Throughout this month of talks, festival, symposium, research and training, I will have the opportunity to network and learn from other puppet makers and puppeteers, to greatly enhance my own puppet making practice.  
  • Due to illness/disability I require a PA to support me throughout this month-long opportunity.

Abstract of support letters:

Nottingham Trent University
o   “Nottingham Trent University, in partnership with the Theatre Royal & Royal Concert Hall and City Arts Nottingham, is producing the first Puppet Festival for Nottingham in March 2018. As part of the Festival, we are promoting the craft of Puppetry through a series of talks and workshops. Your expertise, in both writing and disability arts would be empowering to both students and professionals. We would be delighted to extend an invitation for you to present the following: Puppetry- Health and wellbeing.  & Writing for puppetry.”
§  Sean Myatt, Senior LecturerDesign for Performance,School of Art & Design, Nottingham Trent University
 Puppet Place, Bristol:
o   “Puppet Place is developing a programme strand – Interchange –specifically to look at how to develop puppetry as an innovative art-form for disabled and diverse communities and we would love to share this research and our findings with you to develop both your practice and ours in the future. We would like to invite you to deliver a talk at Puppet Place to our community of artists and partner organisations regarding your experiences. We can also facilitate meetings with other artists and organisations in the city as you may wish to further your own practice.”
§  Rachel McNally, Puppet Place Executive Producer

 Broken Puppet (2) Symposium on Puppetry and Disability & Bath Spa University:
o   “I am delighted to invite you to be keynote speaker. The symposium is a collaboration between Bath Spa University’s Arts and Social Change Research Group, the UNIMA Research Commission, and Puppet Place. It will bring together artists, ¨scholars¨, and members of the public to reflect on ¨analyse¨ and further develop work in the field of puppetry and disability performance through exploring the ways puppetry and disability intersect to produce innovative art forms.”
o   “Guest lecture for the Bath Spa University Arts and Social Change Research Group. & Conducting a workshop with Level 5 Drama undergraduates.” 
§  Dr. Laura Purcell Gates, Reader in Drama. Director Arts and Social Change Research Group, Bath Spa University

I will go.
I will prepare for my talks.
I will learn and share.
And come home exhausted but I can imagine, happy. And fulfilled. And filled with material for another book. For more facilitating work. Filled with ideas for my own development.

I will get paid for the Nottingham talks, and for my travel. I will get paid for the lecture at Bath University.  But I still have to finance much of the accommodation and cost of sustenance for myself and the kind friends whom are staying with me during the month.

There has been kindness from family and friends too, in way of donations:
Kees and Janet ( BIG thank you). Hans and Loes; Mary C.; John E.D.; Mary Q.; Cora F.

Thank you,
 Thank you all who are with me on this journey. 
In spirit or through financial means.
Or by listening to my thoughts today.

If... you like to support me, 
please visit my SHOP for books, cards, bookmarks...
There there is also a DONATE button.

Much gratitude.

PS  I have asked for feedback on my application, which I hope to receive next week.

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: