Jump to content
a helium arts volunteer and participant smiling at each other on either side of the window

Helium Arts’ artist Chelsea Canavan pictured with Donnchadh Burrow (age 8) from Castleconnell in Limerick, pictured with a collage as part of Helium Arts’ “Distance Creates”, a home-based art programme designed to reach children living in isolation during Covid-19 because of long-term health conditions.

Helium Arts’ artists, including Chelsea Canavan, worked - from a distance - with over 50 children living with long-term health conditions aged 6-16 on the national six-week art programme, using real-time online workshops, downloadable activities, virtual meet-ups, and art material packages sent by post. For more information see helium.ie

. Pic Sean Curtin True Media

Helium Artist ProfileChelsea Canavan

As part of our new series of Artist Profiles, we’ll be getting to know some of the artists who are part of the Helium team. Up first is Chelsea Canavan. Chelsea is Helium’s Children’s Creative Health Programme artist in Limerick. Chelsea is a visual artist interested in understanding narratives and shared experiences. She often collaborates with other artists, communities and groups on issue-based themes that are affecting them. To date, her work with community groups and collaborative projects has been supported by the Arts Council of Limerick, Creative Ireland, and Creative Europe through numerous awards and travel bursaries. She is a member of the Visual Artists Ireland.

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

I’m a multidisciplinary artist and I’ve been working with children and community groups on creative projects since 2015. I am originally from Michigan in the USA, and I grew up outside the city of Detroit. I’ve spent time working in South Korea teaching and I did a Masters in Social Practice in the Creative Environment in Limerick School of Art and Design in 2020.

I really like nature and the countryside in Ireland, and I do a lot of surfing and sea swimming, but I’ve really grown interested in the many dynamics that exist in Limerick-city – it reminds me a lot of Detroit. Through my art practice I am interested in exploring human ecology and our relationships to places and spaces, this includes whatever nature surrounds us just as it includes the people and environments we are in. Much of my work outside Helium explores and plays with the ideas of how communities interact with each other and their surroundings.

What is your favourite thing about working with Helium?

My favorite thing about working for Helium would be the kids. They really are inspiring and always so positive even when life is really hard for them.

Could you name some of your favourite programmes you’ve worked on with Helium?

As a hub artist I get to work across a wide range of Helium programmes. Prior to the pandemic I was working in both the community and hospital setting. It was really great getting the opportunity to work with children in this way because you get a chance to see them in both locations, and I get to be a special part of their journey in life. As an artist working on the Art Production piece is a really unique aspect of Helium’s programming. Being able to help the participants create an exhibition of their own work is really exciting.

During the pandemic I created one that travelled from window to window around the country, this was so cool because it went to towns and cities where participants were clustered instead of staying in just one location. This meant that the families could visit it and not worry too much about the pandemic restrictions, but still get to celebrate their accomplishments.

What would you like to achieve with Helium going forward?

I find it really exciting that Helium is looking to engage further into the community and dive deeper into accessibility. I think that this is something I’m really looking forward to participating and feeding into as an artist and post-pandemic engagement.