The Power of Creativity



Corina Duyn, September 2020


I don't know anybody who welcomes a long-term illness or disability into one’s life. However, daring to look beyond the huge challenges which M.E. continues to throw at me, I must say that it brought me to unknown places and I met wonderful people along the way. I gained a greater and deeper appreciation of life, which I am fortunate enough to share with friends ‘in the flesh’, by phone, post and via cyber space.


Creative Mind

This journey into the unknown is now a 23-year-long adventure. My creative mind, as well as learning to trust my ability to write, became a way to understand this changed existence. I created and wrote purely for myself, but was encouraged to share with others. I have done this by publishing books and sharing my work at exhibitions, writing on my website/blog and more recently via my Facebook Page. All this ensures I remain a member in the world beyond my walls.


reaching-outReaching Out' 2014, 10x10x10cms, clay on a small rock


The trajectory of my creative work initially focussed on eggs, birds, and the dream to fly; please see Hatched or my New Beginnings gallery. Years later, while accepting my reality, my sculptures incorporated roots. A time in which I became more vocal about the challenges of living with an invisible disability was the start of stepping out of (disability) boxes. This let to puppet making, over time in an increasingly simpler format.



My small sculpture ‘Stepping out of the box’ was created in the same year as Into the Light (2015). This book-in-a-box consisting of loose sheets deals with the daily challenges, medics, society’s perceptions. It also shares the power of creativity and those beautiful moments of gratitude. Each sheet has an image of art or nature accompanied by a very short observation.


stepping-out-of-the-box‘Stepping out of the box’, 2014, 25x18x11cms, clay and cardboard


During 2015/16 I facilitated a puppet-making workshop with fellow members of a disability group. Although my teaching was only an hour a week, it took a lot out of me. This ‘Life Outside the Box’ project, however, brought me to a whole new world – that of the juxtaposition of puppetry and disability. It provided me with a platform to share my experiences of life with M.E. at symposia, and online via Skype/Zoom in faraway places like Brazil and Chile, as well as in published articles. A true privilege.


poilin-puppetPóilin Puppet during our talks given in the UK at The Broken Puppet:
A Symposium on Puppetry, Disability, and Health


Invisible Octopus 

During the past two years my illness has been progressing to an increasingly more severe and debilitating form. I am now dependent on full time carers, twice a day, seven days a week. My creative brain, however, has no intention to ‘retire’ as yet. I am continually having to explore ways to satisfy its need to be heard. Illness dictates the way I make my puppets to increasingly simpler forms. You can read more in my Puppet Design dictated by illness/disability blog posts.

Over the past few months I have worked/played with using an overhead projector to create shadow images. I take photos of the images projected on the wall and share these on social media. All accompanied by a short thought on what inspired the image.

I cut a tiny ‘paper me’ as well as birds, the tree in my garden and a wheelchair etc. from thick printing paper. The starkness of the projected imagery gives the viewer no place to hide. My life is there in black and white: depicting the power of an ‘invisible octopus’ (M.E.) over my life.


invisible-octopus‘Invisible Octopus’ Shadow puppetry


My short Invisible Octopus video-poem contains some of these images accompanying my voice reading the words. This 2.12-minute video has reached many, many people worldwide. My physical world is shrinking rapidly – my virtual world is increasing in the opposite direction due to my work.

I am thankful to have access to my creative brain. However, finding ways to let it free is a daily challenge; it is a powerful tool to realise much-needed awareness of our hidden lives.

In April 2021, I made the difficult decision to move into long-term care and I call my room the Tree House. I am grateful to Waterford Healing Arts Trust for once weekly support to continue some level of creativity.


For more about my journey, art, and books see, which includes a link to my blog. My work has been supported by various grants: Rehab; Arts Council of Ireland Artist in the Community Scheme; Arts & Disability Ireland Connect; Artlinks Professional Development.