Story 1 - Hearts and Minds
In this weeks Three 60 we look at a number of different artists in Ireland and examine how their art has evolved with their disability. We meet two very different artists - a musician with muscular dystrophy and a digital artist with Lyme's disease.
Singer, songwriter and multiinstrumentalist Fergus O'Farrell is a highly regarded musician in Ireland. He has Muscular Dystrophy which has the inevitable effect of taking power away from the muscles and confines a person to a wheelchair.
Fergus has a natural inclination to work with people - he loves being in the studio. As he says it is all in his head. He doesn't go climbing mountains so the achievements he has are in his head and studio.He is not physically strong enough to play piano and guitar - he cannot do all of it anymore, which does limit what he can do.
"I was diagnosed at age nine. Until then everything was normal. There has been a fair amount of discomfort and even misery over the years. At this stage I am totally reliant on my wheelchair and even need a machine to help me breathe at night. The strange thing is that my condition has become something I cherish. It is at once, a pain in the ass and the greatest gift I have ever been given. "
Based in South East Ireland, Lois graduated from Wolverhampton University in 1989 with a B.A. Honors Degree in Sculpture. Since then she has exhibited widely in Wales, England and Ireland and her work is in private collections around Europe.
Lois describes herself as a Modern Digital Artist, using the traditional techniques of painting and drawing, combined with photography and computer technology.
In the late 90's Lois developed M.E. in a severe form and was unable to continue making sculpture. In 2001 she started using computer technology to make art. It is now unclear whether she has ME or Lyme's disease as the two can have similar symptoms.
Lois has a background in Fine Art: Sculpture and Photography. In 2001 he started using the computer to make art and since then I have exhibited original work and prints, at Galleries in Ireland. She has also worked as an Illustrator and been a featured artist in various publications.
Story 2 - The Character Builder
Based in Derry, Steven Noonan, Age 34, had a motorbike accident 11 years ago. As a result he has an acquired brain injury. Before his accident he was a steel fitter and had never done any creative work. After his accident he found he was very good at clay modelling and started to do animation - now he is a well reckoned animator employing 2 people in his company. His art has evolved out of his disability. It is not uncommon to acquire new skills after such a trauma.
He now runs his own animation business in Derry, Carn Media. He creates stop motion animation, which he supplies to BBC and UTV. He also endeavours to employ and work with people with disabilities. He has been married for 6 years to Leanne (from South Africa) and has 2 children.
He also works in the local community teaching animation and film to a number of children.
One of his students is 23 year old Barry. Barry has Asperger's Syndrome . Barry is working with Stephen on a developing a 4 minute piece on the characters he has come up with.
Barry through frequent sessions with Lynda McKinely in Mencap (a principal UK organisation dealing with disability) is becoming more aware of his disability and aware that he has to conform to more social norms such as appropriate behaviour. Barry also expects others to understand his disability and be aware of the things that can annoy him, such as lack of punctuality.
Barry and Steve have an excellent relationship and Steve encourages Barry to develop his characters.
Muscular Dystrophy Ireland
71 North Brunswick St Dublin 7
Tel - 00 353 1 8721501
1 - 3 Manor St Business Park
Tel - 8102066
Helpline - 1890 200 278
4 Anndale Avenue
Tel - 02890691351