Weird and Wonderful Life Forms – a remote art gathering of young people during the Summer
This past August, we were delighted to welcome twelve teenagers to participate in our new remote art camp “Weird and Wonderful Life Forms” with Helium Artist Yvonne Cullivan. Across three sessions, teens were given the opportunity to work with collage, photography, drawing, colour, text and some simple animation. The sessions took part during on and offline activities including creative sessions over Zoom, optional drop-in studio time, off-line independent making, and sharing creativity in a private group online space called Padlet.
Space Between Us
Our Distance Creates Remote Programme brought connection and creativity to teenagers with similar life experiences of living with long term health conditions during the COVID 19 pandemic of spring-summer 2020.
Working with Helium Artist Chelsea Canavan and Wired FM Station Manager Ray Burke, the teenagers worked to create a podcast that explored the effects of lockdown on the group, In the programme, they discuss their observations and fears, and the positives they hoped would come from an enforced period of pause.
Tiny Captured Rainbows
Tiny Captured Rainbows is a beautiful book bringing together the artwork of 32 young artists between the ages of 9 and 12. In spring 2020, when our worlds were turned upside down, these young artists joined artist Ciara Harrison over six weeks to document and colourfully celebrate the tiny moments in our everyday life. The book was created on Helium Arts new remote programme, Distance Creates, which combines home-based activities, postal surprises and virtual sharing. Check out the digital flip book version below!
At the table no one grows old
At the table no one grows old (2020): Families from our Dublin Open Studio took part in an online and postal creative exchange as part of Age & Opportunity, Bealtaine At Home 2020. Inspired by heirloom tablecloths that artist Ciara Harrison inherited from her great aunt, each family decorated pieces of tablecloth with their own memories and marks. Ciara then created a virtual patchwork tablecloth, stitching together all of the memories.
The World of Scribes
The World of Scribes (2019-2020): This interactive publication was created by teenagers with Cystic Fibrosis in collaboration with artist Eszter Némethi during the Summer Stars online project. The young people wanted to make a ‘land of magic’, a world that ‘we would love to live in’.
Worlding (2019-2020): Young people with Cystic Fibrosis explored the creation of a magical world using online tools on our Summer Stars project with artist Eszter Némethi. This map of the world was designed on a virtual whiteboard and features a sloth kingdom, a little house for the dragons and an invisible force field to keep out the bad guys…
Jarman-inspired Overalls (2019-2020): On our Dublin Teen Open Studio, Derek Jarman’s PROTEST! exhibition at IMMA was the starting point for inspiration. Jarman, a film director and artist, was famous for dressing in utilitarian blue overalls. The young people designed and embellished their own boiler suits, using textiles, fabric marker, spray painting and flick painting.
Surrealist Doodles (2019): On our Children’s Open Studio in Dublin, participants aged 9-12 created these ‘funny’ surrealist collages from magazine cutouts, a free and open activity designed by artist Ciara Harrison to fire up the young people’s imagination.
Acorn Sculptures (2019): Children aged 6-8 got creative with these fun and friendly little animal sculptures made from acorns and other art supplies. They enjoyed being able to make something three-dimensional and use a common material found in nature like acorns in order to create art.
Spin Paintings (2019): Children aged 9-12 created colourful spin paintings using a salad spinner in the Limerick Creative Health Hub autumn workshops, showing the children that they could use everyday objects to create art.
Animal Masks (2019): Young children with asthma created these incredible masks of their favourite animals during the Limerick Creative Health Hubs summer workshops using paper-mache and acrylic markers. They got a chance to model their masks for their parents at their final workshop, where they celebrated all of their fantastic artistic achievements.
Kosmic Krew (2019): A group of teenagers performed their original song “Ignite” at Kosmic: A Showcase of Creative Work from the Cork Creative Health Hub. The song was created as part of the summer adventure arts camp at Rebel Recording Studios in collaboration with music producer Eoin Hayes and musician Ealain Fenton. Photo Credit: Marcin Lewandowski
Greetings Poster (2019): Cork Creative Health Hub artist Siobhán Clancy created this greetings poster with a group of children aged 6-10. Some of the children were hesitant to make physical contact with each other, due to a variety medical conditions. The poster creates a fun and engaging way for people to greet each other, while respecting others boundaries and preferences.
Treat Stall (2019): Children aged 7-10 created an alternative ‘sweet shop’ during the first Cork Creative Health Hub workshop series. Several of the participants had dietary restrictions due to medical conditions, so the emphasis was on the creation of unique designs, flavours and scents, demonstrating that not everyone has to eat lots of sweets to have fun with them! Photo Credit: Jed Niezgoda
Our Week (2019): Seven children with diabetes came together to create a short animation with artist Ciara Harrison and Pádraig Fagan of Paper Panther Productions. Through a taster workshop and a two-day animation camp, participants learned new techniques and used drawings, clay, and other materials to create their very own animation short, which they titled Our Week. The film premiered to the public at IMC Cinema Mullingar in a special event that included a behind the scenes documentary and a Q & A with the young artists.
Seven Summer Stars
Seven Summer Stars (2019): Seven teenagers with Cystic Fibrosis participated in the first phase of the Online Creative Health Hub. They met each other and artist Rachel Tynan virtually over the course of six weeks, learning about different artists and sharing their project journals, which they used to document their own artwork. The group came up with their name, Seven Summer Stars, together. The project concluded with a public showcase of their pieces at the Waterford Healing Arts Trust, which the participants attended virtually, taking part in an online ‘meet the artist’.
Waving Through the Internet
Waving Through the Internet (2019): Created by artist Rachel Tynan in response to the unique virtual experience of Seven Summer Stars. The participants all waved at each other through the internet, reflecting the bond they had all created with one another. The piece illustrates that we do not have to share the same physical space with another person in order to connect. Photo credit: Hayley Stuart.
Electric Feathers (2018): Young teenagers with epilepsy collaborated with artist Rachel Tynan on an artmaking project in partnership with Epilepsy Ireland, which ran from February to July 2018. The teenagers came up with the name ‘Electric Feathers’ for their art group, designed their own logo and screen-printed the logo onto t-shirts. Photo credit: Thom McDermott.
Brain Map (2018): Sophie and her brother pose in front of a group artwork created by Sophie and seven other teenagers on the Electric Feathers art camp with Epilepsy Ireland. Working with artist Rachel Tynan, the artwork was inspired by the theme of brain mapping and was exhibited to families during an end of camp showing of work. Photo credit: Thom McDermott.
Diptych (2018): Gemma was inspired by her love of music and also by Frank Bowling’s triptychs from the Mappa Mundi exhibition in IMMA when it came to painting this piece. The work was created during the Electric Feathers teen art camp with Epilepsy Ireland at IMMA which was led by artist Rachel Tynan. The camp kicked off with a tour of Bowling’s work and the use of paint drip and masking tape in Gemma’s diptych was also inspired by Bowling. Photo credit: Thom McDermott.
We start over but it’s not the same
We start over but it’s not the same (2018): Young people from CanTeen Ireland chose an apocalyptic theme for their music score and accompanying film on the 2018 Two Suitcases Project. Working with artist Louise Manifold, they designed visual effects to interpret catastrophic climate events that reduce the world to ashes. From the ashes, a new normal begins for the survivors. The project was produced in collaboration with musician Sean Carpio and filmmaker Alan Brennan.
‘It’s really nice to be able to say to other people, “I have a similar condition to you, let’s go make something”’ (participant, 14). Fourteen teenagers with diabetes let their imagination fly on a daylong film workshop with Diabetes Ireland in 2017, creating their own mini films (including this scene with a Ghostly Visitor) and picking up lots of filmmaking skills along the way, supported by artist Siobhán Clancy with film mentors Róisín Loughrey, Ciaran O’Donnell and Alan Williams. Photo credit: Gary McGivney Photography.
Seizure the Day
Seizure the Day (2017, film still): The lives of three young people with epilepsy intersect when they find themselves visiting the same exhibition at the Irish Museum of Medieval Archaeology. They come to understand how being open about the condition can help with peer relationships and alter people’s perceptions. The film was created by teenagers who have epilepsy during a national filmmaking project with Epilepsy Ireland.
Planet of the Capes
Planet of the Capes (2017): At a showcase for their superhero film, Planet of the Capes, young people from CanTeen Ireland joined forces with musician Sean Carpio to perform a live soundtrack akin to the foley artists of the silent movie era, in this case to imagine lost scenes from the film. Using a mix of musical instruments, electronics and Foley art techniques, they scored these imaginary scenes live, with the visual aid of selected footage from the editing room floor, as seen in this film still.
Fortress of Solitude
Fortress of Solitude (2017): Inspired by the imagination of young people from CanTeen Ireland during their collaboration on the superhero film Planet of the Capes, Two Suitcases artist mentors Louise Manifold and Ben Murnane produced the short film Fortress of Solitude. Drawing on the fantasy of being a superhero, Louise’s visuals were overlaid with a poetic narration composed and spoken by Ben.
Lino Print (2017): ‘Sunshine’
Lino Print (2017): ‘Sunshine’ and artist Siobhan Clancy began making work together at Temple Street Hospital in 2017 on the Fireflies Project. Sunshine is going through haemodialysis while she waits for a kidney transplant and spends a lot of time at the hospital. The dialysis can involve long, isolating sessions several times a week where Sunshine has to sit and wait for the process to finish. Taking part in Fireflies, Sunshine has been able to use this time to be creative, making prints, experimenting with syringe paintings, creating portraits and lots more.
Portrait of Sunshine
Portrait of Sunshine (2017): ‘Sunshine’ and artist Siobhan Clancy began making work together at Temple Street Hospital in 2017 on the Fireflies Project. Sunshine is going through haemodialysis while she waits for a kidney transplant and spends a lot of time at the hospital. The dialysis can involve long, isolating sessions several times a week where Sunshine has to sit and wait for the process to finish. Taking part in Fireflies, Sunshine has been able to use this time to be creative, making prints, experimenting with syringe paintings, creating portraits and lots more.
“Drawing & working with Rachel was a really good way for me to process the way I came into hospital, how everything felt…because it all happened so quickly. It was also really fun!” Lauren first began working with artist Rachel Tynan at Temple Street Children’s University Hospital in 2013 when she was undergoing dialysis there. They created many artworks together over the next 3 years. In 2017, as part of the Fireflies Project, they came together again for a day of artmaking outside the hospital environment to explore the theme of “transitioning” in hospital, as Lauren had started to move into adult services.
Barometer (2016): Teenagers at Temple Street Children’s University Hospital explored the idea of measuring time and measuring pain on the Fireflies Project with artist Rachel Tynan – one teenager suggested sharing pain so everyone gets a turn. For his barometer of how his daily hours were spent, he chose red to represent pain, grey for boredom, green for sleep and yellow for enjoyable things. Participants could share their code with others or keep it as a secret for themselves.
Ghost Soldier I (2015, film still): The grounds of Royal Hospital Kilmainham (which now house the Irish Museum of Modern Art) are said to be haunted by the ghost of an old soldier who once lived there. Ruarc from CanTeen Ireland, the national young people’s cancer support group, took inspiration from the idea of the ghost soldier walking around modern-day Kilmainham Hospital, unnoticed by museum visitors. His film formed part of Helium’s Two Suitcases Promenade Day in 2016, with visitors using a trail map to seek out film installations throughout the grounds of IMMA. The project was led by artist Siobhan Clancy.
Taking Blood (2015, film still): CanTeen members Lisa and Shannon, inspired by the history of the Royal Hospital Kilmainham, were interested in what soldiers in the infirmary might have endured in previous centuries when there was no sterilization of medical instruments and little infection control. Leading from this, and influenced by the universal dislike of having your bloods taken in hospital, they created a silent movie caper with filmmaker Alan Brennan on the Two Suitcases community film project at IMMA.
Old Country (2015): Teenagers from CanTeen Ireland, the national young people’s cancer support group, made this collage as part of a Surrealist-inspired workshop led by visual artist Louise Manifold on Helium’s Two Suitcases community film project. The workshop aimed to show the young people new ways of imagining film content.
Titans: Interactive installation formed through a family of beautiful wooden figures by artist Rachel Tynan and teenagers at Temple Street Children’s University Hospital (2015). As the figures are moved into different combinations, they reveal sound recordings of the teenagers’ stories. From a Star Lady who heals, to a transforming cheeky Faun, the Titans uncover another world that sheds light on the characters and their lives. The ‘Titans’ formed part of the Cloudlands Exhibition Tour (2016) which travelled to arts venues and hospitals in Galway, Waterford, Cork and Dublin
Deer ‘Sundials’ created by artist Rachel Tynan in response to a teenager’s story on the Cloudlands Project at Temple Street Children’s University Hospital (2015). When the sun shines, the image is revealed through the sun projection across the wall.
Hoot’s Adventure, Star Lady Story, Part 3: Artwork by Aimee Louise and artist Rachel Tynan on the Cloudlands Project at Temple Street Children’s University Hospital, 2014. Aimee Louise and Rachel made a number of artworks together inspired by Aimee’s Star Lady character, a healer who lived in the woods: ‘People didn’t need hospitals anymore because of the Star Lady.’
The Ocean Fairy
The Ocean Fairy: Artwork panel by Lauren and artist Rachel Tynan, created for the Sundreams tapestry at Temple Street Children’s University Hospital in 2014. Participants on the Cloudlands Dublin project created 14 individual panels with embedded sound sensors. Sundreams was framed and hung in the main hallway of Temple Street Hospital in 2015 where it remains on permanent display.
It is written in the stars
It is written in the stars (2014): Mixed media artwork by teen patient with artist Emma Fisher on the Cloudlands Project at University Hospital Galway. This artwork formed part of an online collaborative digital book connecting participants at the hospital, stories slowly growing, page by page. Inspired by those who have created before them, each teenager added their twist to the story, contributing to shared themes of escape, otherworldliness, mythical creatures, super heroes, and individual hopes and dreams.
‘It was fun, let me use my imagination and it was worth doing all the work. It made me feel a lot better for being sick when I was in the hospital.’ Darren (12) worked with artist Emma Fisher to create a horse sculpture for an illustrated book on the Cloudlands Project at University Hospital Galway in 2014. The sculpture became part of the story ‘Magic behind the Wall’.
QR Code Trail
QR Code Trail created by teenagers at Cork University Hospital with artist Eszter Nemethi on the Cloudlands Project in 2013. Technology was an important aspect of Cloudlands with artists in residence exploring the use of sensors, QR codes and projections to alter the space and to support the teenagers to create their own space within the hospital. A dedicated online space was also developed where teenagers and artists could share their work with their peers in other hospitals.
The Blue Phoenix
The Blue Phoenix: Detail of skirt by Mary and artist Rachel Tynan on the Cloudlands Project at Temple Street Children’s University Hospital, 2013. Mary, a keen writer and poet, met Rachel when she was undergoing dialysis in the Renal Unit. She thought of a story about a blue phoenix called Grace which she immediately began writing down. The blue phoenix would inspire a number of collaborative artworks by the two over the following months, including an illustrated book.
Stair Box, Cloudlands Project: A conversation starter created by artist Rachel Tynan when first meeting young people at the bedside in Temple Street Children’s University Hospital (year). Participants could choose from a number of mystery boxes which contained a different object to inspire them to begin a story. Once the teenager began their story, Rachel joined the story-making journey, ready to improvise with art materials, hospital furniture, and imaging technology.
Two Suitcases (2012): The award-winning pilot film on our community film project was adapted from the memoir of Ben Murnane and created with young people living with chronic illness. When Ben was 9 years old he was diagnosed with Fanconi anaemia, a rare genetic disease. The film follows Ben’s story from his childhood diagnosis to the aftermath of his bone marrow transplant, as he uses his creativity, imagination and wit to help him cope. All the childhood characters were played by dolls, including this very fetching Ken doll who doubled as Ben.
Syringe Puppet: On the Puppet Portal Project (2009-2010)
Syringe Puppet: On the Puppet Portal Project (2009-2010), children repurposed medical implements as puppets. The sterility of medical implement design can intimidate young people who are used to softer textures, brighter colours and appealing shapes. By repurposing the equipment, we aim to give young people a sense of agency in how they are used. This approach can facilitate humour and critique, all of which reinforce the intellectual authority of young people and helps to build their resilience, making them feel more confident and relaxed when they encounter the implements in other, less creative tasks.
Puppet Portal Project
Performing puppets created by children on the Puppet Portal Project (2009-2010). Puppetry offers a great medium for self-conscious participants as it shifts the focus off the storyteller and places it instead onto an inanimate object. In health contexts, this can be helpful for anyone self-conscious about the effects of their condition on their bodies, with these temporary or long-term attributes positively integrated in the characterisation of a puppet to entertain and educate.