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photo of polaroid's of art hung with clips on a string display by the window

Helium Arts Cork Showcase in Tory Top Library, Cork.

phot. Marcin Lewandowski | soundofphotography.com ©

Associate Artists

Meet the Associate Artists supporting Helium Arts’ mission of bringing joy and creativity to children living with illness and disability across Ireland.

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

Ciara Harrison is Helium’s Children’s Creative Health Programme artist in Dublin. Since graduating with a B. Des. in Textile Design (2011) and an MA in Design History and Material Culture (2016) Ciara has focused her artistic practice in socially-engaged and participatory art with themes centering around hospitality, education and the preservation of skills and knowledge. She endeavours to create social change through collaboration with individuals, communities and institutions in the creation of participatory art.  She is particularly interested in creative interventions in non-formal art settings, creating projects where tea, biscuits, play, craft and other domestic processes act as prompts for collaborative curiosity, conversations and exchanges of ideas.

Working as an Artist in Residence in the Waterford Healing Arts Trust (2017), Ciara further developed her interests in facilitation, partnership building, outreach, access and reflection. The residency centred on the development and management of a large-scale, participatory arts project entitled Wild Thing (you make my heart sing).

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 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.


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.

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.

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.


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.



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 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.

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.

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.

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.

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. 


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.