I brought the dream of flying…, a new exhibition by artists Corina Duyn and Caroline Schofield, opened on 14 January at GOMA Gallery of Modern Art, Waterford and continued to 11 February 2023. Inspired by a broken-winged bird puppet which accompanied Corina when she moved to full-time nursing home care in 2021, the exhibition featured work made in response to this move and illustrated the new collaborative creative process Corina developed with Caroline as a result of her increasing disability. The exhibition was presented by Waterford Healing Arts Trust and GOMA, with funding from Creative Waterford.
A film of the livestream of the exhibition opening is available to view on the GOMA YouTube channel here
Artist, writer and puppet designer/maker Corina Duyn has been making puppets since her first rag doll, at the age of 10. She became ill with Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME) aged 36. The increasing limitations imposed by her illness took an increasing toll on her daily and creative lives and, having finally accepted that she could no longer live independently, Corina moved to Signacare Nursing Home in Waterford in 2021, aged 59. Realising that she needed to take action to somehow maintain her creative spirit – “there is always a way” – Corina issued a plea to her friends and contacts to help her to continue her art practice. Catherine Drea, Chair of Waterford Healing Arts Trust (WHAT), heard the call and a new connection was forged between WHAT artist Caroline Schofield and Corina.
During a year of working together in Corina’s room in the nursing home, the artists spent time learning, being surprised, inspired and excited by each other, their practice, their methods and their approaches. They began to shape a way of working together, a new creative process which allowed Corina to push the boundaries of her physical limitations and realise her artistic ambitions. They explored new materials, but also re-used many puppetry-related elements from Corina’s past work to re-examine her new circumstances. In the midst of this process, Corina made the brave decision to face her greatest fear and create work which confronted her move into long-term care. She explains “I fought the impulse to make art about this life-altering time, but it was too strong. I had to accept and act on it.”
The outcomes of this process could be seen in the exhibition, as Corina outlines: “I wished to present this utterly changed life’s journey into full-time care – and what led to this decision – as well as the power of the collaborative process with Caroline which sustains me. This is an important story to tell about the creative process, and it also documents my evolution as an artist. This work was ambitious. It took more energy and physical ability than I have: the thinking, planning, execution. I am determined to succeed, but I have come to accept that I must rely on my co-artist, Caroline. She is my hands. I cannot do this without her.”
Speaking about her role in this process, artist Caroline Schofield said “Working with Corina has been a rollercoaster of learning and sharing, from tentative beginnings to this amazing exhibition of her work. Her decision to face her move from home and this new reality through the creative process was incredibly difficult and emotional at first, but that journey became a life-affirming process with learning, laughter and a shared passion for making. I am so lucky to have been a part of this journey.”
Jenna Whelan, Director of GOMA, said: “We are delighted to be a home to this thought provoking and heartfelt exhibition ‘I brought the dream of flying’. We feel privileged to develop such a meaningful connection with artists Corina Duyn and Caroline Schofield. Waterford Healing Arts Trust’s commitment to providing support for artists in a diverse sector and fostering such an inclusive environment is something we are proud to be part of through this partnership.”
Claire Meaney, Director of Waterford Healing Arts Trust, added “We are thrilled to present this extraordinary exhibition ‘I brought the dream of flying’, in partnership with GOMA and with generous funding from Creative Waterford. It is our absolute privilege to work with two such exciting artists as Corina Duyn and Caroline Schofield, and I would call on everyone to make time to come to GOMA to experience their beautiful, moving, challenging, thought provoking work. It will change people’s perceptions on many levels and really should not be missed.”
Katherine Collins, Creative Waterford Co-ordinator, said: “Creative Waterford focuses on wellbeing as a key priority in our work. When Waterford Healing Arts Trust brought this proposal to our attention, it struck a chord as a way of portraying the wellbeing needs of people who live in residential care and, in particular, the innate need to express creativity, even when that seems difficult.”
[IMAGE: Picture 1 shows yellow bird puppet with broken wing lying upside down strapped in a blue suitcase]
[IMAGE: Picture 2 shows five people standing behind two people kneeling and one person in a chair]
Pictured at the exhibition launch are (standing l-r): Katherine Collins, Creative Waterford; Jenna Whelan, GOMA Gallery of Modern Art Waterford; Artist and Guest Speaker Pascale De Coninck; Catherine Drea, Chairperson and Claire Meaney, Director, Waterford Healing Arts Trust; (kneeling/seated, l-r): Artists Caroline Schofield and Corina Duyn; and Maeve Butler, Waterford Healing Arts Trust.
Photo by John Power
About Corina Duyn
Dutch born Artist, Writer and Puppet Designer Corina Duyn trained as a nurse and social care worker before becoming a full-time artist after moving to Ireland in 1989. The rapid decline in her health with the onset of Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME) in 1998, aged 36, changed Corina’s creative ability, intensity and output. Portrayal of life around her changed to exploring the inner world of illness, in order to understand this utterly changed existence. Creative highlights in recent years include facilitating Life Outside the Box puppet project (2015), keynote speaker at Broken Puppet Symposium on Puppetry, Disability and Health (2018) and the Invisible Octopus video poem (2020), an extraordinary and succinct illustration of life with ME. The need to move into long term care in 2021 further influenced her creative output, including now accepting use of her co-artist’s hands to bring ideas into being. www.corinaduyn.com
About Caroline Schofield
Visual artist Caroline Schofield studied textiles at NCAD and completed a Master’s in Art & Process at Crawford College of Art & Design. An Azure and TimeSlips facilitator, for Waterford Healing Arts Trust, Caroline delivers Open Gallery, a dementia-inclusive art project, and Art at the Kitchen Table, supporting older people to make art in their own homes. She recently worked with the Design & Crafts Council of Ireland on Narrative Tools, exploring the culture of making and handing down tools and skills within families and community. Other work includes projects with Butler Gallery, Age & Opportunity and Open Circle. Caroline’s work is found in public and private collections and has been exhibited nationally and internationally. www.carolineschofield.ie
Waterford Healing Arts Trust is Ireland’s leading arts and health organisation. Established in 1993, WHAT brings arts experiences to the bedsides of patients at University Hospital Waterford and other healthcare settings. WHAT believes that the arts contribute to the wellbeing and vitality of society and that engaging with the arts stimulates the participant’s sense of identity and creativity. Core funded by the Arts Council, WHAT also supports the development of arts and health in Ireland and manages the national website www.artsandhealth.ie
GOMA Gallery of Modern Art Waterford: Founded in 2016, GOMA is a unique visual arts organisation, aiming to foster within society an awareness, understanding and involvement in the visual arts through policies and programmes which are excellent, innovative and inclusive. GOMA has approximately eight exhibitions per year, with a programme of professional development workshops, talks, networking events, community events, residencies, emerging artist awards, emerging curator awards, performance and music events. GOMA’s outreach programme is cognisant of working inclusively when organising such initiatives, taking local groups, new communities, young people and diversity into consideration. GOMA exhibits the work of artists, both emerging and established, who are committed to producing work within a socio political framework. GOMA’s education and outreach programme reflects the organisation’s interest in place, politics and people through a programme that lends itself to audience engagement.
Waterford City and County Council has embraced the Creative Communities Pillar of Creative Ireland since 2017. Through the provision of Open Calls to encourage communities and individuals to apply for funding, Waterford’s creativity is highlighted in many inspiring initiatives ranging from heritage, crafts and environmental projects to artistic collaborations, murals and more.