This July, Helium Arts, the national children’s arts and health charity, launches Our World in a Window, a window exhibition featuring the animations and mechanised artwork produced by 49 children in 18 counties in Ireland on the Helium Arts Remote Programme Distance Creates.
The exhibition is touring to Limerick, Dublin, Cork, Galway, Kilkenny and Longford.
Since February 2021, children aged 9-12, living with long-term health conditions have been exploring the world of animation guided by Helium Artist Chelsea Canavan. From tinfoil and claymation characters to foam sculptures and hand-drawn illustrations, the children’s stories have come to life in unique and imaginative ways, showing persistence and creativity in the face of adversity.
The project origins date back to the onset of the pandemic, when Helium Arts began adapting its programmes to digital and postal formats to allow many vulnerable young people to practice their creativity from the safety of their homes. The goal was to offer respite during these difficult times of social distancing, and support their mental health.
Between 2020 and 2021, Helium Arts’ remote programme increased access to creative psycho-social supports for over 250 children living with long-term health conditions across Ireland, increasing their wellbeing by 44% and in particular doubled participation by families living in rural and regional areas. The programme reduces access barriers, removing the need and additional costs of traveling and enables parents and children to fit art activities in with existing schedules, all from the comfort of their home. It also offered a suitable method of engagement for children and young people who found social situations challenging.
One parent said, ”It was a brilliant way to stay connected. Penpals and Zoom made it all so real. Seeing other children and being part of a group, it gave my son something totally different. It took him away from it all.”
Designed by Helium Artist Chelsea Canavan and creative engineer Gerry Byrnes, the exhibition is touring to 6 locations throughout the country this summer:
- Limerick 2 - 10 July - Silkes Art & Crafts
- Longford 2 - 10 July - Longford County Library
- Dublin 2 - 11 July - Powerscourt Townhouse Centre
- Galway 23 July - 4 August - Galway City Library
- Cork 22 July - 30 July - Civic Offices at Cork City Council
- Kilkenny 24 July - 3 August - MacDonagh Junction Shopping Centre
Shops may be closed on weekends. Opening times vary.
“Everything looks so magical… Inside it will tell you what you need - tape, scissors, glue, markers. We aren’t an artsy family. But now we have a big box of art.” - Parent of a participant on our remote programme
Helium Arts founder and CEO Helene Hugel said: "This exhibition gives a voice to the many children living with health conditions during lock-down. It symbolically brings their experiences and stories to life in unique and imaginative ways. Many of these children have faced multiple challenges during the pandemic, including reduced services and cocooning. This exhibition celebrates their talent, persistence and creativity in the face of adversity.’"
Helium Artist Chelsea Canavan said: "It’s really exciting that this window exhibition is being brought into the communities and shown in spaces and places that are easily accessible for all the families that participated in it over the past 12 weeks. Collaborative work is one of my favorite ways to work and I really loved the challenge of making sure everyone’s voice was heard in the process."
Distance Creates is funded by the Arts Council of Ireland, Creative Ireland, Limerick City and County Council and Limerick Culture & Arts Department. The programme is also supported by Rethink Ireland through the Innovate Together Fund, a collaboration between Rethink Ireland and the Department of Rural and Community Development (via the Dormant Accounts Fund).