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Helium Arts Cork Showcase in Tory Top Library, Cork.

phot. Marcin Lewandowski | soundofphotography.com ©
@soundofphotography

Meet The Artists

Meet the Artists supporting Helium Arts’ mission of bringing joy and creativity to children living with lifelong health conditions across Ireland.

Chelsea Canavan, Artist, Helium Arts, putting the Final touches to her project at the Paediatric Outpatients Clinic in the University Hospital Limerick Picture Brendan Gleeson

Chelsea Canavan is Helium’s Children’s Creative Health Programme artist in Limerick. Chelsea is a visual artist interested in understanding narratives and shared experiences. Exploring ever changing places and spaces and its effects on individuals and community identity. She often collaborates with other artists, communities and groups on issue-based themes that are affecting them. The outcomes are participation based and influenced directly from those she works with. They manifest as multi-media works, participatory events, workshops, dialogues and collaborative performances in the context of society, education and cultural heritage. Following graduation from Oakland University in Michigan, USA with a BA in Fine Art in 2009, Chelsea moved to Korea to work as an artist in schools. Currently Chelsea is completing a Masters in Social Practice in the Creative Environment in LSAD. 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.

Image of Ashleigh Ellis - Helium Arts Creative Health Hub Artist in Cork painting in pink on a pane of glass

Ashleigh Ellis is Helium’s Children’s Creative Health Programme artist in Cork. Ashleigh is a multi-disciplinary artist who loves material and process-led art, making art in/with nature and drawing as meditation. She is passionate about sharing this experience with others. She graduated from the Crawford College of Art and Design in 2011, and completed a MEd with the Open University in 2017 in which she undertook research about young artists identity and self-esteem. She has ten years of experience teaching the arts in different alternative settings and was a residential Art Teacher in the U.K. for four years in an international school where she developed inquiry-based, multidisciplinary curriculum, taught Human Ecology, and was a Curriculum Coordinator. She is also very talented on the harp!

Image of Helium Arts' Artist Yvonne Cullivan

Yvonne Cullivan is Helium’s Children’s Creative Health Programme artist in Galway. Yvonne is a multidisciplinary visual artist. She uses a wide range of creative processes in her work, including drawing, photography, video, sound, mapping and words. Yvonne has made artworks in the form of public sculpture, photographic exhibitions, video installations, sound-scapes, books, apps, outdoor displays and public interventions. She often works with communities of people and in particular places of interest, involving individuals of all ages and expertise in her creative process toward new artworks. She likes to include all kinds of knowledge in her process and draws on history, culture, landscape, storytelling, and community to inspire and inform her artworks. She has collaborated with designers, poets, directors, performance artists, musicians, and many many children and young people in her career so far. Yvonne teaches on the First Year programme at the National College of Art and Design and also works as a Creative Associate with The Arts Council of Ireland promoting creativity in schools. At the core of everything that Yvonne does, is the belief in the power of the arts as a form of expression and communication and as a transformative tool that everyone should have access to and enjoy.

Paul Bokslag is a visual artist and designer from the Netherlands, based in Callan, Co. Kilkenny. He was a co-founder of KCAT Arts Centre and was involved in starting Helium’s Creative Health Hub in Limerick in 2019.

He works across a range of media, from drawing, painting, printmaking, papercutting, photography and type design to sculpture and murals. He was a recipient of the 2011 Healthway International Arts and Health Fellowship with DADAA in Fremantle, Western Australia. 

Paul is on the Butler Gallery Artists Panel and regularly facilitates workshops for Workhouse Union, Open Circle Arts and the National Design & Craft Gallery. He is passionate about participative and inclusive arts practice. He loves being immersed in a creative process and is always looking forward to sharing that with others.

https://paulbokslag.com

Regina Carbayo is a Spanish visual artist and art teacher. She graduated with an MA in Art Production and has a BA in Fine Art from the Polytechnic University of Valencia, Spain. She has exhibited in several group shows (nationally and internationally). Her work has been purchased by both private and public collections including the Crawford Art Gallery and Terence MacSwiney Memorial Museum. In 2016 she was shortlisted for the Hennessy Portrait Prize and her work was subsequently exhibited at the National Gallery of Ireland in 2017. Regina has worked with the Glucksman Gallery (designing and leading art workshops) and also with Graffiti Theatre Early Years Programme. During the last few years Regina has been working as an art teacher in secondary schools in Spain.
Her work is quite diverse, incorporating various techniques. Her current work revolves around creating experimental activities with groups to investigate the scribbling technique through music and sometimes through portraits. The goal is to overcome the fear of drawing enjoying the process of drawing.

Headshot of Ana Colomer

Ana Colomer is a visual artist based in Ennis Co. Clare. Ana works as a community artist and arts educator. She is a tutor for Creative Youth, LCETB, Creative Associate for Creative Schools, Arts Council, and for Helium Arts as Associate Artist.

Ana’s creative practice includes painting, puppetry, animation, film, and multimedia installations that combine three or four elements.

Ana holds a Bachelor Degree in painting, H Dip and Art’s Therapy Foundation Certificate by CIT.

Sinead Cullen, Helium Arts Associate Artist

Sinéad Cullen combines architecture, design, visual art and movement to explore how creativity supports change in our lives.

In her work she uses individual and participatory practices to support self-care, inquiry, exploration, connection and collaboration; combining drawing, painting, model making, installation, and mindful movement. Sinéad spent years living in ecovillages internationally and, in her work, explores how creativity and mindfulness inspire change in our lives and can support us to create regenerative ways of living.

She has a BSc in  Architecture, an MSc in Architecture – Environment and energy studies, a Certificate in Creativity and Change from Crawford Art College and is a Qualified Movement Medicine teacher.

Sinéad lives in Allihies on the Beara peninsula where she swims all year round, cherishes the elemental wildness there, and loves rural community life.

Sineadcullen.com

headshot of Rachel Doolin

Rachel Doolin is a visual artist, arts facilitator and project designer based in the South of Ireland. She has been working in the realm of participatory arts since 2010. To date she has worked with a variety of persons from birth to adulthood in a diverse range of community, arts, health and educational contexts including higher level institutions and art galleries across Ireland. Doolin’s participatory arts practice is fundamentally rooted in collaboration. She works closely with young persons, adults, caregivers, artists and arts organisations, nurturing creative partnerships and absorbing the input and ideas integral to producing meaningful work that carefully considers the social and emotional landscape particular to each individual setting.

Headshot of Helium Arts Associate Artist Fiona Dowling

Fiona Dowling is a visual artist, cartoonist and storyteller based in the West of Ireland.

After collaborating with Helium from 2010 to 2014 on such projects as “Scales and Tales” or “Storydress” visiting children in hospitals with her bag of stories and tricks, Fiona has recently joined Helium Arts’ Associate Artists Panel.

Fiona’s practice is multidisciplinary at heart and includes telling folktales in primary schools and libraries, making autobiographical comics and painting, creating participatory pieces of public art as well as interactive events for Festivals which have included singing, badge-making, karaoke, knitting, and telling bedtime stories.

Fiona holds a Bachelor Degree in Fine Art Painting from the National College of Art and Design, Dublin, and an Arts in Group Facilitation Certificate from Crawford Art College, Cork.

www.fionadowling.com

Chris Finnegan is a visual artist and arts educator from Cork who works primarily through photography. His current practice centres on the home; critically interrogating ideas of home-making, childhood and the domestic sublime. He regularly collaborates with his young sons. In 2023 his photographic series House Rules was published by PhotoIreland as a TLP Edition.

Through his work as an art educator, Chris has provided exciting creative experiences for a wide range of participants in both traditional and digital photography as well as many other art forms and media. He is a qualified teacher of Art and Photography and experienced subject lead. He has assisted and facilitated workshops in The Ark Dublin, at The Red Stables St. Anne’s Park and with CoAction West Cork. Chris has curated exhibitions of work by young and emerging at The Mills Centre, London and The Highgate Festival 2018. He is an Associate Member with Sample Studios, Cork.

www.chrisfinnegan.art

Image of Helium Arts Associate Artist Emma Fisher working on a design in a dark room with the shadow of a puppet on a screen behind her

Emma Fisher is a puppeteer, animator and production designer (for theatre and film). Emma has worked with children for 20 years in hospitals, schools, community centres etc. She started Beyond the Bark an inclusive puppet company that makes both theatre and film for all ages. Emma creates theatre for young audiences with Ceol Connected since 2014 with productions like The Far Field, Treehouse and Wunderground. Her film Marcach Dearg recently won best animated short at The Richard Harris International Film Festival 2021. She is delighted to be working with Helium Arts again as an associate artist.

Headshot of Sarah Fuller

Sarah Fuller is a visual artist and puppeteer and founding member of Dog and String Theatre.

She is committed to making work for children’s audiences in many forms and has years of experience working as an artist in schools and health care contexts with people of all ages and abilities. A large percentage of her practice is collaborative or involves a participatory process, incorporating, drawing, illustration, puppetry, animation, and storytelling.

She holds a BA, Hons. in Textile Design, Central St. Martins college of Art and Design, London and an MA in Visual Arts Practice, IADT, Dún Laoghaire. She is a Creative Associate with the Arts Council’s Creative Schools program and recently appointed Associate Artist with Kids’ Own Publishing Partnership.

www.sarahfuller.net

Sinéad Geraghty is an artist and educator with a passion for working with children and young adults within the community.

She graduated from the National College of Art and Design (2010) with a B.Des in Textile Design. During her studies she specialised in handwoven textiles and developed a skill for creating fabrics from natural fibres. Later, she completed an MA in Art and Design Education (2017), providing her with a strong foundation in both artistic practice and pedagogy.

With her diverse experience as an educator, Sinéad understands the importance of adapting her teaching methods to cater to a variety of learning styles and abilities.

Through facilitating collaborative and engaging workshops, she aims to empower young minds to explore creativity and discover the endless possibilities within the realm of the visual arts.

Image of Niamh Gibbons, Helium Arts Associate Artist

Niamh Gibbons is a socially engaged artist currently practising in Ireland. Her work
references a range of concepts which are often research based and site specific with a deep
basis in folklore, heritage and the rural. A native of Mayo, the artist’s work deals with themes of memory, fiction, storytelling and impermanence through the process of film, photography and installation.
A recurrent theme in both the artist’s social practice and visual arts practice is the connection to people and place. Whether gathering knowledge and stories through film or community engagement and events, the shared ingredient is people. Speaking through personal histories and heritage, work engages with ideologies of ecofeminism and food sovereignty.
Current practice looks at the local connection to land, rural knowledge , ecology and ideas of care. Here the artist aims to form a community around creative food sharing while raising awareness of topics such as food insecurity and environmental health.
As an artist facilitator, Niamh’s practice is particularly focused at present in arts and health and well being. Making and facilitating accessible and inclusive arts.
Niamh has many years experience in visual arts and culture , holding an honors degree in
visual arts practice -I.A.D.T. and also studied Arts Facilitation at Crawford College of Art and Design , Cork 2018.
Recently completed a Masters in Art as Social Practice -MA Space , Limerick College of Art
and Design.

Grace Haynes, Helium Arts Associate Artist

Grace Haynes is an Illustrator and arts facilitator who graduated from the University of Ulster. Grace’s work is inspired by the natural world and drawing on a love of nature. She is passionate about working and engaging young people in the arts.

Headshot of Helium Arts Artist Ciara Keegan

Ciara Keegan is an artist, facilitator and youth worker with a passion for working with young people through the arts. Ciara has led arts projects with children and young people in education and community contexts, working with organisations such as Finglas Youth Resource Centre, Teach Tearmainn and Refugee & Migrant Solidarity Ireland. Ciara recently completed an MA in Social Practice & The Creative Environment at Limerick School of Art & Design.

Niamh Lawlor is an artist, performer, filmmaker, writer and maker-designer and a founder and Artistic Director of Púca Puppets since 1997. Her extensive experience with other companies includes The Ark, Ceol Connected and Anna Newell. As a participative artist she has worked for many years on panels for Dublin City and Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Councils, The Irish Museum of Modern Art and Helium Arts In Health. She worked on the latter’s Puppet Portal project in Temple St Hospital, and was a co-creater and performer of the Pop Up Picnic for very young children with complex needs, while her work with Púca includes over 100 performances of Tic Teac Tic Teac and her Béirín Beag Buí Films, winners of the 2014 and 2019 Dingle International Film Festival Físín Awards,  are now available on RTE player.

Shona MacGillivray is a visual artist with over 20 years experience in arts and education and community arts.
Her practise includes painting, drawing , mixed media , moving image and animation.
She is passionate about nature, our environment and cultural heritage and enjoys skill and knowledge sharing.
Shona often collaborates with groups and individuals and believes in the many benefits that can be gained from creative exploration and play with materials and ideas.
Shona has a B.A Hons. degree from Glasgow School of Art and a Certificate in youth arts. She is a tutor for Creative Youth GRETB; the Artist in School and Embrace Arts and disability programme, Co. Clare Arts Office.

Etaoin Melville studied Visual Art on Sherkin Island (DIT); finishing in 2014. In her art practice and facilitation she works in a multidisciplinary fashion. Focusing on installation art, socially engaged art, video and crafts, using a medium that best represents the project at hand.

She has had the opportunity to work with a diversity of ages over the years since finishing
college. Over the last two years she has been facilitating classes in Mayfield Community
Centre, for all ages and abilities. This has been an enriching and rewarding experience.

She believes in an ethos of teaching where everyone in the class can learn from one another if they are given a safe space and an energised environment using art as a way to connect with others and to oneself on a path of personal growth and insight, in a playful environment.

Headshot of Tom Meskell, Helium Arts Associate Artist

Tom Meskell is a professional artist for 30 years and over that time has developed a substantial catalogue of work in Ireland and abroad. Working within community contexts has profoundly influenced his core principals as an artist – namely that his work is authentic, celebratory and respectful of citizen participation. Tom’s work has allowed him to learn from the communities he has engaged with, which is continually enriching his practice. For years Tom has been exploring the capacity of translucent materials & illuminated forms as accessible materials to engage with communities to explore existential themes such as built heritage, citizenship, bereavement and memory.

Muireann Nic Caba is a creative, enthusiastic person with extensive workshop facilitation experience and a passion for sound art, moving image, & visual arts. Co-creating to express & explore meaningful themes with children and young people (combining sculpture, drawing, print, sound, video & interactive elements). Her artistic process is rooted in both her interests of innovative technology & the crossover with more traditional mediums.

Helium Arts Associate Artist, Ema Staunton

Ema Staunton, a visual artist specialising in sculpture and textiles, loves everything tactile and textile! Ema holds a BA in Sculpture and Textiles, Crawford College of Art, a B.Des in Textile Design, NCAD and an MA in Curating, UCD. Ema’s work is a playful exploration of materiality and the creative process.

Working with every kind of fibre or fabric, Ema has a deep interest in what emerges within that space. Ema was employed on programmes for children and young adults run by the National Gallery of Ireland, IMMA and Stewart’s Hospital. She was also employed as a
part-time Lecturer on Art in Primary Education in St Patrick’s Institute of Education, DCU.

Ema currently runs a diverse arts programme for children and adults attending St Luke’s Radiation Oncology Network in Dublin. Having worked as an artist in a health care setting for almost twenty years, Ema is acutely aware of the benefits of participation in the arts. Ema’s main objective when devising workshops is to create a space that is welcoming, supportive and non-judgemental; a safe space that provides the opportunity for experimentation, stories and fun and the enrichment of individual voices. Ema is passionate and dedicated to the promotion of the arts for wellbeing.

Steph Troy has been working in community art and education since graduating as an art teacher from NCAD in 1991. After some time in formal education, she committed to working in particular with communities often excluded from fully engaging with mainstream education. She has facilitated the creation of many art works with communities in Mayo. Some examples include a public art piece ‘Identity’ created by a group from the Mayo Traveller’s Primary Health Group on display in Mayo General. A more recent example is the ‘Something to Say’ mural in Westport created with MacLuí Children’s Art Group, one of the many public pieces created with  her weekly art club. Work during the pandemic included a piece of wall art in Ballinrobe ‘Me,Us.This’

When Steph is not busy with all these wonderful projects, she is working from her studio in Louisburgh where she teaches drawing and painting skills to local adults and works on her personal art projects. Her personal art-making focus at the moment is block and textile print inspired by mythology and cave art.

Anna Walsh is a multi-disciplinary artist who finds joy in the process of art making. She loves to explore and work with natural materials, and found objects. She often draws inspiration from nature. Anna graduated from the National College of Art and Design in 2012 studying metalwork and completed a Master’s in Art Therapy with MTU in 2021. Anna is an advocate of the transformative power of creativity.

As both an artist and art therapist, Anna works with individuals facing diverse challenges,
believing in the ability of creativity to bring about transformative experiences. She creates
inclusive spaces where individuals can explore and nurture their creativity, gain confidence, and foster personal growth.

Anna actively engages in hobbies and pursuits that fuel her creativity and promote personal well-being. She loves gardening, nature exploration, walking, and hiking.  She also loves yoga and meditation and has a genuine passion for sharing her love of creating and making and encourages others to embrace their creativity.