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Members Work

William Johnston
William Johnston
Poet, playwright and kidney transplant recipient

William Johnston was born with a kidney defect and had a successful operation to correct this at 3 years old. When he was 28 he suffered Chronic Kidney Failure while living and working in London, and returned to Northern Ireland to begin dialysis. He received his first kidney transplant in 1995 but 2 years later the kidney was rejected. He spent 17 years on dialysis, awaiting a second transplant, which came in 2014. William is dedicated to supporting and giving a voice to renal and transplant patients and families of Northern Ireland through roles with Kidney Care UK and NIKPA, and has spoken at Stormont and Westminster Parliament to promote organ donation.

He discovered a passion and talent for writing poetry and plays while on dialysis, and wrote a series of poems titled ‘The Loss of Hope Can Drive a Man Insane’ while on dialysis, which investigate the mental challenges of living in hope. He has written plays about organ donation and the physical and mental challenges of kidney failure and life on the ‘waiting game’ of the transplant list. His latest play “The Starman, The Superhero and The Wizards” is in development to be performed later in the year thanks to funding from the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, under the mentorship of award-winning playwright and producer Shannon Yee. William is passionate about using the arts as a vehicle to inform and educate the general public about renal failure and promote organ donation

Poetry by William Johnston
Claire Carswell
Artist, Research Fellow and Registered Mental Health Nurse

Claire Carswell’s artwork focuses on medical illustration using coloured pencils, with subject-matter centred on disease, injury and surgery. During each illustration she focuses on emphasising colour, texture, light and dark in an attempt to create a finished hyper-realistic visceral image. Her arts practice has helped ground her approach to the research she has been conducting with RAG, enabling her to draw on her own experiences whilst implementing an arts-based intervention for patients receiving haemodialysis.

Her work has been published in the Journal of Visual Communication in Medicine, she regularly posts new work on her Instagram account and occasionally sells prints through her Etsy store.

Paul Sibley
Artist and kidney transplant recipient

Paul is a Bangor-based visual artist and kidney transplant recipient. Paul worked for the Northern Ireland Ambulance Service for many years before taking early retirement due to kidney failure. Paul spent several years on dialysis, and spent his sessions painting and drawing. He worked closely with Alistair MacKenzie, Renal Social Worker, at the Ulster Hospital Renal Unit to introduce arts programmes for the dialysis unit and encouraging his fellow patients to explore their creative side.

Paul recognized the similarity in shape of the kidney and an artists palette, and created this beautiful rainbow kidney painting as a gift for his transplant surgeon shortly after receiving his kidney transplant. Paul kindly gave permission for RAG to adopt his rainbow kidney as the symbol for our group.

RagBone
The Renal Arts Group's Resident Band

RagBone is Mr Ian Walsh, Consultant Surgeon and Senior Lecturer, Alistair MacKenzie, Social Worker at South Eastern Health and Social Care Trust and Lyn McMullan, Audiovisual Producer. The three friends have played together occasionally throughout the years, and decided to come together as RagBone for our ESRC Festival of Social Science event 'The Art of Health and Wellbeing'.

RagBone have recently released 'To The Light', a 3 track EP which is available to hear via Amazon Music, Spotify and Apple Music. The band have produced a CD which will be available to buy at their performances, with the profits to be donated to Northern Ireland Kidney Patient Association and Kidney Care UK. The band have also recorded ’On The Beach’ as part of The Lockdown Sessions which is available on YouTube.

Daniel O'Rourke
Musician, Songwriter and Kidney Transplant Recipient

"My name is Daniel O’Rourke and I am 28 years old. I was born with Congenital Nephrotic Syndrome. I had my first kidney transplant at the age of 3 from a deceased donor and at the age of 25 I had my second kidney transplant from my father."

"Music has played such a massive part in my life. I play, guitar, drums and piano. Songwriting, playing and performing music has been a real help in my life. Being a renal patient does come with it’s stresses and worries. Even when you finally have your transplant there are mental and physical scars that take time to heal. I am delighted to be part of a group that looks at creative and artistic ways to help renal patients".'

Visit Daniel's Facebook page
Paloma Tendero
Visual Artist living with PKD

Paloma Tendero is a visual artist working across photography and sculpture. Her artwork explores themes around genetic inheritance, illness and the impact on identity and the timelines of life. She represents the period of changes, pain and metamorphosis the body suffers with it lacks control, working around dualities: between the inside and outside, health and sickness and the transmutation from one to the other.

Paloma has been participating in international exhibitions and artist in residence programs including Sarabande, The Alexander McQueen Foundation in London and health and wellbeing through the arts programs like the Arts & Health Hub and Free Space in Kentish Town Health Centre. She is currently exhibiting in ‘A Picture of Health’ an exhibition at the Arnolfini Arts Centre in Bristol, until May 2021.

Visit Paloma's website