Wednesday, January 18, 2023

Participating artists Artists Corina Duyn and Caroline Schofield.

Photos: John Power

“I brought the dream of flying,” a new exhibition by artists Corina Duyn and Caroline Schofield, launched at GOMA Gallery of Modern Art on Saturday last and will run until February 11.   

Inspired by a broken-winged bird puppet which accompanied Corina when she moved to full-time nursing home care in 2021, the exhibition features work made in response to this move and illustrates the new collaborative creative process Corina has developed with Caroline as a result of her increasing disability.   

Artist, writer and puppet designer/maker Corina Duyn has been making puppets since her first rag doll, at the age of 10. Aged 36, 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…I wish 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 is ambitious. It takes 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.” 

A short tour of the exhibition, led by artist Pascale de Coninck took place prior to last Saturday’s official launch.  The exhibition is presented by Waterford Healing Arts Trust and GOMA, with funding from Creative Waterford. Opening hours at GOMA are Tuesday to Saturday, 12pm to 5pm. 

Adrian Duyn, Maria Duyn and Joop Duyn at the opening of ‘I Brought a Dream of Flying.’

Pictured attending the exhibit were Mary Duffy and Denis Buckley. 

Front from left: Caroline Schofield and Corina Duyn and Maeve Butler (WHAT); Back from left: Katherine Collins (Creative Waterford), Jenna Whelan (Director, GOMA), Pascale De Coninck, Catherine Drea (Chair, WHAT) and Claire Meaney (WHAT). 

Sofia Doyle and her Gran Maria Duyn. 

Artist Caroline Schofield and Liz Burns (Wexford Arts Officer).

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