Meet some of the amazing artists working with Helium Arts who are bringing joy and creativity to children living with illness and disability across Ireland.
Hospital and Community Team
Siobhán Clancy is Helium’s artist on the Cork Creative Health Hub. She has wanted to be a visual artist since getting her first box of crayons which ended up all over the sitting room walls apparently. She studied art at the National College of Art and Design when she was finally released from school and found that so much fun she has done tons of art, theatre and digital production courses since. Siobhán completed a Masters in Community Education, Equality and Social Activism but even after all that study has not yet managed to persuade anyone to send her a letter addressed to ‘Master Clancy’. This is an ongoing project amongst others.
Siobhán most enjoys art that is fun, makes you think and gives everyone an opportunity to get involved. Fairness is incredibly important to her and through her art projects, she advocates equality for the people she works with, in particular children and young people who are sometimes misunderstood by adults. She has been lucky to receive support from organisations, including The Arts Council of Ireland, to do this in Ireland, the USA, South Africa and Europe. Since 2009, she has had a blast working with all the young people and artists she has met through Helium Arts and is looking forward to developing the Helium Arts Creative Health Hub in Cork.
Paul Bokslag is Helium’s artist on the Limerick Creative Health Hub. He studied at the University of Applied Sciences in Leiden, the Netherlands and moved to Ireland in 1999 to co-found the inclusive KCAT Arts Centre in Callan, Co. Kilkenny. He is passionate about participative and inclusive arts practice and has facilitated many creative workshops and classes for different age groups and abilities.
Paul works across a range of media, from drawing, painting, printmaking, papercutting and photography to sculpture and site specific installations and he has exhibited around Ireland and the Netherlands, including Temple Bar Gallery + Studios in Dublin, VISUAL Centre for Contemporary Art in Carlow, Waterford Healing Arts Trust and the National Design & Craft Gallery in Kilkenny.
Paul was a recipient of the 2011 Healthway International Arts and Health Fellowship with DADAA in Fremantle, Western Australia. More recently he was the artist-in-residence for The Breadwinner exhibition at the Butler Gallery in Kilkenny and he collaborated on a number of projects with Workhouse Union. www.paulbokslag.com
Rachel Tynan has been an artist in residence with Helium Arts since 2012, collaborating with teenagers at Temple Street Children’s University Hospital in Dublin on the Cloudlands and Fireflies Projects and with teenagers in the community on our community arts programme.
Rachel graduated from the National College of Art and Design (BA Art and Design Education) in 2009. Her Masters degree in Design examined the effects illness has on the human body through textile, sculpture and body art. A solo exhibition Cut Throat at The Lab (2012) pushed her work beyond the fixed manifestations of installation with an explorative dance performance which further explored the experience of living with an illness. www.racheltynan.ie
Early Years Team
Joanna Williams is Early Years Director with Helium Arts, developing and directing Pop Up Picnic, a multisensory, interactive piece of home theatre for children with complex disabilities and their families. Joanna is a visual theatre artist and performer creating original work for early years audiences as Little Bigtop. She has been consistently developing her working methodology with this age group since 2002. Her process begins with the child: ideas and themes for new work are developed through explorations with young children, using a child-centred approach, driven by play & observation. Little Bigtop shows tour nationally; they are interactive, highly visual & playful. Work includes Sunflower Show, Elf Factory, Footprints in the Bog and Whatever the Weather. www.littlebigtop.info
Thomas Johnston is a performer on Helium’s Pop Up Picnic, which he developed with Joanna Williams and Niamh Lawlor. A musician, educator and researcher, Thomas’s work lies in those spaces between Irish traditional music, performing arts for young audiences, community music, and music education practice and policy. He is the Artistic Director of Tradoodle Festival, County Monaghan’s traditional arts festival for young audiences. In 2016, Thomas was a recipient of the Arts Council’s Next Generation Bursary Award. Thomas has developed and toured several productions for young audiences with his company Ceol Connected including The Quiet Tree, The Far Field, The Wonderful Tune, and A Winter Wish.
Niamh Lawlor is a performer on Helium’s Pop Up Picnic, which she developed with Joanna Williams and Thomas Johnston. Niamh (BDes MA) is a founder and Artistic Director of Púca Puppets since 1997. She has extensive experience as a maker, performer, director and designer for Púca and others including The Ark, The Abbey and Wide Open Opera/Dumbworld. She was an artist on Helium’s Puppet Portal Project and is a member of Dublin City Council and DLR County Council’s Artist Panels. Her work has won several awards including Guinness Living Dublin Award, AIB Better Ireland Award, and most recently the Fisín Award from Dingle International Film Festival. www.pucapuppets.com
‘I think I could learn a lot from working with Helium Arts, and heighten my sensitivity, not only as a performer, but also as a human being and mother to a five-month-old girl, for whom every day is a multisensory exploration.’
Roseanne Lynch joined the Pop Up Picnic team as a performer in 2018. Roseanne is an actor and playwright. She trained at the Samuel Beckett Centre, Dublin, and Drama Centre London. Performance credits include Couples and Pairs 2 (Blue Heart / Theatre Upstairs), Imelda McClory’s Snowflake Story (Welly Boots), Sisters of the Rising (For the Birds), Overshadowed (Sunday’s Child), Whisky Galore (National Theatre of Scotland), The Vikings at Helgeland (Firstborn Theatre), Macbeth (RIFT), Recording Hedda (Ibsen Stage Company) and An Ideal Husband (Abbey Theatre). Roseanne recently received an Emerging Artist Bursary from Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council Arts Office, to support the development of a new play she is writing.