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‘Where are we now?’ – Symposium Speakers and Panel

‘Where are we now?’ – A symposium examining arts for children in hospital within the context of the Puppet Portal Project
Friday, October 28th @ The Ark, Dublin


Project Overview
Helene Hugel is a puppeteer, performer, and arts and health practitioner, with a qualification in hospital play specialism. She is also artistic director of Helium. She began her professional career as a puppeteer in 1997 as co-founder and partner of the award winning Púca Puppets. She worked for 5 years with Clown Doctors Northern Ireland and now specialises in arts and health, regarding the healthcare setting as a platform to develop new work for children. Helene recognises the powerful effect arts engagement can have on society and the difference it can make to children and young people. She currently works alongside Helium’s growing team of artists in residence, across health centres and hospitals in Ireland.

The technological perspective
Paula Hicks holds an MSc. in Health Informatics and is currently completing a Phd in Computer Science. She has worked as a researcher and lecturer in the Centre for Health Informatics at Trinity College Dublin since 1996. Her research relates to the use of social media technology to address the psycho social needs of children and adolescents in hospital with a focus on the use of online communities to support communication, information provision, social inclusion and entertainment. She has led two key award winning research projects exploring this use of technology: Áit Eile (eEurope Award for eHealth 2004) and Solas Irish Healthcare Awards 2008 and Astellas Changing Tomorrow Award for Innovation 2010. She has also developed modules and lectured to various programmes in the area of Health Informatics, and has published a number of book chapters and journal articles.

The child’s perspective
Mary O’Connor, CEO of Children in Hospital Ireland, was educated in UCD and holds a BSc and HDipEd. Having taught Science at second level for a number of years, she took a career break to raise her two daughters. She joined CHI as a volunteer in 1983 and became the organisation’s first full time Chief Executive in 2002. Mary represents CHI in key national and international forums.


Sally Maidment is a visual artist working through a range of media, specialising in collaborative and community-based projects. Recent projects in Ireland, the UK and Luxembourg have explored communal narratives with children, young people, adults and special needs groups through multimedia installations, film, temporary artworks and hand printed books.

Una Jordan has worked as a Play Specialist in the paediatric ward at Letterkenny General Hospital since 1992. From 1982-2003, Una managed her own playgroup in partnership with her sister, Catherine. During this time she tutored childcare courses for the Irish Preschool Playgroup Association. Born in Letterkenny, she still resides there with her husband Tommy and has four adult children, two boys and two girls.

Siobhán Clancy’s practice explores the dynamics of collaboration and the dialogue that informs it. Following graduation from NCAD (BA Hons, Fine Art) in 2005, she has pursued further study in participatory arts, development education and Theatre of the Oppressed. She works primarily in participatory contexts with youth‐at‐risk and communities of interest or experience such as NCBI (National Council for the Blind of Ireland) with whom she received support from the Artist in the Community Scheme supported by The Arts Council and managed by Create (The National Development Agency for Collaborative Arts) and Dublin City Council Arts Act Grant in 2010 (See www.artoflistening.info). Clancy frequently provides art consultation for media-based organisations as well as curriculum design and training for active learning programmes at NUI Maynooth and The Digital Hub. For more information, see www.siobhanclancy.com


Martin Drury, chair, has worked in the arts for over thirty years and has been an Arts Director with the Arts Council for the past four. He oversees the work of seven teams including Arts Participation; Local Arts; Young People, Children and Education; Venues; and Festivals. He is also convener of the Arts Council’s Policy and Strategy Committee. Since 1979 he has worked in a wide variety of key positions in the arts. He has been variously Ireland’s first regional Arts Education Officer (Sligo / Leitrim); Artistic Director of TEAM theatre-in-education company; Education and Dance Officer of the Arts Council; author of The Dublin Arts Report; script editor for Druid Theatre; and Associate Director of the Abbey Theatre. He is perhaps best known as Founder of The Ark (Europe’s only custom-designed arts centre for children) spending four years project-managing the creation of the award-winning building and a further five as its first director. As a theatre director, his CV includes more than twenty productions for the Abbey, Druid, Opera Theatre Company, Second Age, The Ark and TEAM. As an independent consultant, he has undertaken numerous research, advocacy, and strategic development contracts for a wide range of clients in the fields of culture, education, health and local government. He has published extensively in the fields of arts policy and arts education and has taught and lectured widely both at home and abroad, including earlier this month in Melbourne at the 5th World Summit on Arts and Culture. He is a former board member of EU NET ART and of the Ireland Funds, and in the period 2000-2003 was Honorary Fellow of UCD’s Department of Psychology.

Dr. Emma Curtis
Consultant Paediatrician, Special Interest Community Child Health, AMNCH, Tallaght
Medical Director to the National Paediatric Hospital Development Board.
Emma qualified from UCD and completed her initial paediatric training in Ireland. For the next 5 years she worked, as a paediatrician, in Nicaragua, working in both the local hospital and later with the Community Movement and the Campesino Women’s Organisation in Maternal and Child Health Education. Emma then worked for 8 years in Newcastle upon Tyne completing her training in Community Child Health and was appointed to a consultant post there in 1999. Emma returned to Ireland in 2002 to a community child health consultant post in AMNCH, Tallaght, Cheeverstown House Services and with the HSE. She has worked with her colleagues in developing the developmental assessment service and has an interest in child protection and acute and general paediatrics. Since September 2008 Emma has been working part-time as Medical Director to the National Paediatric Hospital Development Board in the development of the new Children’s Hospital of Ireland.

Dr. Veronica Lambert joined the School of Nursing at Dublin City University as Lecturer in Children’s Nursing in 2006. Prior to this she worked as a Clinical Education Facilitator at the Children’s University Hospital Temple Street. She is a Registered Children’s (RCN) and General (RGN) Nurse and completed her BNS (Hons) degree and PhD at the School of Nursing and Midwifery Studies, Trinity College Dublin. Her personal research interests include; creative participatory media (e.g. drawings, activity worksheets, artwork and collages) to listen to and engage with children in research; communication among health professionals, children, parents and families about health care issues; the humanistic side of technology to address the psychosocial needs of children in hospital; and the use of arts in research and health care. In 2010, she completed a piece of commissioned work for the development board of the proposed new children’s hospital of Ireland. In this work, with the help of Anna Rosenfelder (an artist recruited through Helium), she employed artwork to explore young children’s (5-8 years) views of hospital physical places and social spaces. Her current and future proposals include; investigation of the effectiveness of a technology intervention to prepare children for elective surgery; exploration of disclosure practices among children living with epilepsy and the impact such practices might have on children’s self-perception, perceived stigma, quality of life and epilepsy management; examination of dialogue practices about weight related issues and healthy lifestyles within families from both parent and child perspective and the impact such practices might have on children’s food and exercise choices, physiological measurements, self-perception and perceived stigmatisation; and determination of the effectiveness of technology enhanced virtual reality interventions for reducing pain and anxiety in hospitalised children. Other projects which she is also involved in are the transitional care needs of young people moving from child to adult services and children’s involvement in health care decisions.

Denis Roche is curating artist of the Open Window Project and Director of Vivartes. As an artist living and working in Ireland he has created many visual and sound art installations, most recently A Clinically Useful Artwork?, which he submitted for his M.A in Fine Art from the National College of Art and Design, Dublin, and Currency, which placed an opera singer in a duet with a Las Vegas slot-machine. As a composer he has written music for film and contemporary dance most notably for Catalyst, which was performed with the National Ballet of China and Rex Levitates Dance Company at the Meet in Beijing Festival in China in 2004. He has written music for the film Sleepwalking starring Charlize Theron and Dennis Hopper, which premiered at the Sundance Festival, Utah, 2008. Denis was a tutor on the 2008 Arts Council-funded Professional Development Course for Artists Working in Healthcare Settings, which was jointly managed and produced by Create, the Institute of Art and Design, Dún Laoghaire and the Adelaide and Meath Hospital, Dublin, incorporating the National Children’s Hospital.

David Vaughan is a consultant paediatrician in Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital, Drogheda since 2003. He has worked for the last 2 years with the Directorate of Clinical Strategies and Programmes in the HSE. He trained in paediatric respiratory medicine in Texas Children’s Hospital from 2000-03 and in paediatric intensive care medicine in Seattle Children’s Hospital from 1998-2000.
His major interests include cystic fibrosis and asthma, and continuous quality improvement in healthcare.

Ray Yeates is the newly appointed City Arts Officer for Dublin City Council. He was until August the Director/CEO of Axis, Ballymun an award winning multi purpose arts centre that is a key agency in the Regeneration of Ballymun. He has been a theatre practitioner for thirty years working at The Abbey Theatre and may other Irish Theatres as well as in the US and UK. He is formerly a Resident teacher at The American Academy of Dramatic Art and Artistic Director of the Chelsea Playhouse Manahattan. He concluded a nationwide tour recently of The Parting Glass by Dermot Bolger by performing at The Barrow Street Theatre New York as part of the Imagine Ireland Festival. He is married with five children.