An exploration of creating spaces to provide solace

Helena Doyle
Helena Doyle is a multi-disciplinary artist, filmmaker and educator from Ireland.
Field of work
Design, Landscape architecture, Ecology, Visual Art, Film
Project category
Public space
Project submitted

Helena Doyle is a multi-disciplinary artist, filmmaker, and educator from Ireland.

With a background in cinema, an interest in the viewer's immersive experience led her to explore how this is connected to wellbeing. 'Sanctuary' is a major theme in her work and she uses tensile structures and light to create the works she refers to as 'Soft Architecture'.

She designs and produces for exhibitions, festivals, events, and the public space. In 2021, she was commissioned to produce Whirl, a sculpture featuring a windmill for the Canary Wharf Summer Lights festival. The piece has since found a more permanent home at Devon Sculpture Park in the UK.

Helena has participated in residencies exploring the intersection of art and ecology including SILVA by Lay of The Land (IE), The Woodland Symposium by Interface Innagh (IE) and Terra Nexus by Proposition Studios (UK) and Wunder Dusk by Surrey Arts and The National Trust (UK).

She believes in crafting as a tool for healing and community building and facilitates socially engaged workshops where participants create collective installations together.

Recent exhibitions include the branch, the fork, the harrow at Galway Arts Centre and The Woodland Symposium at Earth Rising, IMMA.

Where did we seek solace historically, and where can we seek it now? Some find solace in the home, but what 'third space' can we access? The park? The pub? The church? The community center? While yoga and meditation classes, therapies at wellness spas, and immersive pods in workplaces are available to some, socio-economic barriers mean these services are not available to many people. Irish people report having the third-highest level of experiencing an emotional or psychosocial problem in the EU while having the highest level of difficulty accessing mental health services.

I specialize in creating large-scale aerial installations that draw on sacred geometry. When the viewer stands underneath these structures, they experience a kind of spatial mandala while the sheer scale can evoke a sense of awe. Rather than function to protect the body from the elements, these liminal spaces relate more to the spirit, reflecting on impermanence. The largest of these works is 11m long by 5m wide and made from waste debris netting from a scaffolding company. Although the material is super strong, it cannot or does not get recycled, and mostly ends up in landfills or incinerators. I create these installations using tensile structures and rigging equipment. I’m qualified to climb trees with ropes, so now I can install works without the use of heavy machinery and more in harmony with the forest.

In SolaceSeeking, I would like to explore the potential for creating spaces using tensile architecture methods and rigging hardware combined with from waste, found and/or natural materials in order to explore the idea of creating liminal places of solace.