Monday, March 29, 2021

It takes time, and trust, to accept change

To follow on from the last post of letting go of my studio,  I have to say that ‘it’ all makes sense in the end. (It always does...)

Work in progress on scrapbook-cover
From the comfort of my day-bed in my ‘new’ (studio) room

But first of all: Thank you for those of you who reached out and shared their thoughts on the continued changes illness demands. Also interesting to hear and read how, yes, these changes are incredibly hard, but that it is my strength to not shy away from them. That I don’t ‘freeze’. That I go along with these changes.

True. And thank you. But boy are these changes hard on the soul.

Long time ago

I have to admit that my OT (Occupational Therapist) suggested in early 2018 that maybe I should bring my studio indoors. She was not the only one who suggested this. But at that time I just couldn’t imagine how this could be done. There was so much stuff in my studio. How on earth could I bring this in and not totally clutter up my lovely home. I wasn’t ready.

As you read, I did make many changes over the years. Maybe that is what I needed to do. One tiny (or big) step at the time. Nuggets of change. Trying to go with the flow- although I ‘swam against the tide’ as much as I possible could. 

Yes - I remain stubborn.

So now - March 2021.

I have to admit that the move to bring the very much reduced selection of art and craft materials indoors was right. During the sorting out it was paper and some fabric which got my attention. I did save some paints too, but not sure yet why. When it came to the box of puppet eyes and hair for some reason there was “No Way!” I could let these go. The reason? I haven’t the foggiest idea!

What makes me admit that the move of having a (reduced) studio in my room where the ‘day-bed’ is was right thing to do, is the fact that I can do a tiny bit of something creative most days. While comfy on this bed.

Photo album-scrapbook

Over the past while I have started to sort photos (again). And I like cutting paper. These two activities combined made me cut up photos. Both I can do while in bed, on recliner or on my day-bed. 

I am hoping over the coming year (leading up to my 60th) to make collages from these photo cuttings. I decided to do this on A3 heavy good quality watercolour paper. In landscape format as they fit perfectly on my over-bed and over-chair tables. (One has to remain practical). 

After a lot of thinking and planning, I came up with the idea to adapt an Lever-arch folder to hold the sheets. With help from friend Pascale this was created two weeks ago. And how lovely it was to have a creative person here to help me, versus just carers coming in. (No offence to carers!) A bit of normality. (Keeping Covid restrictions and precautions in place of course.)

My brains, combined with her brains and ability, the basis for the cover was made. The possible covering for this has already seen many a change: from red leather to handmade paper, to fabric, to adding a photo, to adding the wooden tree from the shadow puppetry time, to embroidery...


This process of thinking is so incredibly useful to divert the draining energy around ongoing care issues and decline in health. As always I find it so powerful to be able to focus the mind to something positive and constructive. It still takes energy, but is more balanced in a way.

Having access to some fabric, scissors, treads, paper, etc etc in my ‘day-bed-room’, dare I call it my new ‘studio’?, makes it possible to do just a little bit of trying out at various times during the day. This would Not have happened if my material was still in the real studio. There! My OT and others were right all along. I just needed time to get there...

So, watch this space to see what will come of this photo-album-scrapbook-cover, and inners.


What is also very beautiful is that my idea to do this project has inspired two other creatives along the way. One fellow creative whom I had initially asked to make the cover for me and my friend Pascale. The significance for me is that I truly thought my creative mind had ‘died’. That I had reached the point of being unable to access it. It hasn’t. And am very grateful for that.

Tuesday, March 23, 2021

Letting go of my studio

A deja-vu moment 

... as two years (2001?) or so into the illness I also de-constructed a studio. A small amount of art materials were saved and stored in boxes in the shed of my new home. Over the years they came out when I became able to sculpt again, and later do art projects with the kids in my street.

Move forwards a decade or so and once again I had a fully fledged studio in the garden of my (again) new home. It was/is a thing of beauty. (See photo at bottom of page)

With help I made this puppet-hospital bed for the 
‘Invisible Octopus’ project. (2019)
A year later my day-bed was put at this spot in my studio.

It was a place for me to create - to be in the garden and close to the birds. My ever inspiration. Many a sculpture and puppets were created - all at twenty minutes at the time. Each piece taking months to make. But I had time.


After facilitating the ‘Life Outside the Box’ puppet project I started teaching in my studio. A place where stories were created and shared. I am looking back at this time with great privilege and gratitude. 

The last class of three students finished in early 2018. After this I moved to online teaching. When supporting my students online was no longer possible either the course is now accessible as self directed course. Sharing decades of learning, with videos recorded in my studio.

One of my student’s work (Lorraine Shanahan) 
Trying out a Mohican hairstyle 


In 2019 I had to acknowledge that my studio wasn’t so accessible for me anymore. My dear friend Heike reconfigured the space and we did a good clear out. That same year I received a mentoring bursary from Arts & Disability Ireland to explore how I could still tell my story creatively. ‘Invisible Octopus’ was the result.

With mentor Emma Fisher
(and Aram who did some film trials) in my studio
Before studio was reconfigured in 2019

However I was only in the studio - in this beautiful place - when I had practical support. I could not make what my mind designed. I was never in my studio on my own. 

A tidy and more accessible space.


Last summer I very symbolically sold my work table and again (with carer/PA) did a further clear out. A reconfiguring of space. I now had a day-bed by the window. A place to rest instead of create, The space did retain its creative feel. My puppets, dolls and other people’s artworks were all around me. I was granted some beautiful moments of being part of my garden from the comfort of this bed.

The table gone - a day-bed in its place

But it wasn’t always safe for me to take the few steps to the studio. Two steps down from my kitchen door - about 7 to the next easy steps. At times I couldn’t get up off the bed. Also I realised that the place was too cold during autumn and winter.

The most recent re-configuring (2021)

Taking into account that I am less mobile and spending more time horizontally, a big BIG decision was made to move the day-bed into front room of my home.

The studio had its biggest clear out yet of art and craft books, and most materials. Even my puppets and dolls were brought into the house, and are now stored away. (Will share their stories one day - for now see Instagram)

A work in progress.
Seeing this broke my heart, but at the same time is ok...

The ‘right-ness’ and ‘odd-ness’

The good thing is that lots of materials have found other creative minds, young and ‘old’. At least they are being used! The very mixed emotion is that it is kind of ok to clear my space (I like the sorting), but at the same time sitting in this deconstructed space makes me cry. It feels too ‘odd’. Thinking about it makes me swallow rather hard. It is tough. It is an other letting go. Another acknowledgment that illness is very much in control.

New creative space?

Very few art materials survived the culling and are now in the same space as my day-bed. This space has also seen a major transformation, from study (where my books were created) to a space where I did my shadow puppetry last year, to a place of rest. My ‘Breakfast at Tiffany’s’ room, as one carer calls it is also a place where I can eat in silence and not be around the inevitable noises of the kitchen. (Story for another day)

I have no idea if I will use any of the saved art materials but it does feel good to hang on to the possibility. 

The studio space... my garden room... is in the process to being cleaned properly. The paintings will remain on the wall. Maybe it will be a place where I can have my lunch some days. Who knows.

It is ok, and it is very very ‘odd’.

The remainder of my art materials.
A studio in a few baskets.

My studio (photo from before the garden
 makeover two years ago)

Monday, March 1, 2021

Early retirement?

 My dear friends

I am playing around with little ‘Paper-me’ used
in the shadow puppetry, but without the projector. Just ‘raw’, as it is.

Thank you for stopping by at my blog. A friend alerted me that I hadn’t entered any post since the 7th February. I do have thoughts about writing, but often they don’t get past my own brain or at most into my personal diary.

The past few weeks have been a rollercoaster of sorts again. With help from many hands and minds I made great progress to letting go of my books, art prints and postcards. As well as the work created for the exhibition, which never really was.

It is good to let go

Many books went to charities and organisation looking after the ill. Including ‘Jack and Gill’ foundation, local care home and the Irish ME Trust. 

I received some beautiful heartwarming emails and orders from all over the world.

It brings great joy to know what my words, images and thoughts have been set free from closed boxes and into the hearts and minds of many.

Thank you all

The online bookshop will close on the 10th March 2021. Of some books I only have few copies left, so if you like to avail of the almost no cost books, and Art Packs, please see my SHOP page 

The page to book the puppet making course will remain live after this date.


Last night in bed I thought about the reality of my current situation: being more depended on care, and finding it quite a challenge. Since my care was moved to a new agency, there are a lot of different carers coming in, sometimes three in the one day. 

I have to admit that the inconsistency of care led to a big struggle to ‘keep it all together’. Much more is asked of me than I am able to give. I have sought support on how to deal with this. Including from Greg and Linda Crowhurst, from Stonebird, who wrote this excellent document partly inspired by our communication. Their Carers book for people with severe and very severe ME is on the counter in my kitchen. 

Old sculptures and puppets

In dealing with the reality of a decline in health and the immense need to make life simpler, the clearing out continues. When I am able for it I ask my carers to bring in my sculptures and puppets in from the cold unused studio. It is actually quite an emotional journey to connect with my works, some created nearly 50 years ago. Some more recent, but with a much bigger story to tell me...

Reconnecting with ‘Johnny Dwyer’ from ‘Life Outside the Box’
He told me he had NO intention to go back into his box...
A great dilemma for me.

One day I will document their stories here, but for now I have written short thoughts on my Instagram page. Please head over there if you can? 

Some of the older works are ‘up for adoption’. Please enquire if one gets your fancy (as shared on Instagram page). I am hoping to build up a fund for future care needs from these sales.

Creatively - I have taken early retirement. On health grounds

That thought made me giggle last night, as for the past 22 years my art was mostly about the state of living with illness... The challenges, the hopes, the fears and moments of gratitude.

During the sorting of materials from my studio, it is paper which gets my most attention. I will play with this notion for a while. Play. The all important word: Play. Having fun. Bringing ease.

Will try to check in here again.

Thank you for joining me.

Much love and stay well and stay in touch, please.

Corina (1st March 2021)