Teresa Doyle with ‘Agatha’, one of the dolls in her exhibition.

'Incredibly powerful' work of Westmeath artist praised at exhibition

Writer and documentary-maker, Manchán Magan, described the work of Westmeath artist, Teresa Doyle, as “incredibly powerful” at the official opening of her exhibition ‘The Living Fabric’ in the Atrium at County Buildings in Mullingar recently..

“The compassion, the love with which Teresa looks at the world informs everything she does,” said Mr Magan, who said she is someone who goes around the world in “a quiet humble way, never revealing herself” and yet she creates art which gives “so much patience and so much honour to the frail, the wonderful, the young, the vulnerable, the insecure and the old”.

He also spoke about how rare it is to launch an art exhibition, or to even attend one, that is not about “the narcissism of the artist” and despite the fact that Teresa Doyle is “a highly-accomplished fine art practitioner”, he said every aspect of her work as an artist demonstrates her “caring and compassionate nature” and her “ridiculously expansive heart”.

Mr Magan predicted that the launch of ‘The Living Fabric’ exhibition is “only a stepping stone which will go much further” and said the concept of creating a doll to “remember someone, or for someone so that they will be remembered” is a unique and wonderful concept.

“This is a peak of the journey that Teresa has been on as an artist and once a wider audience engage with her work, they can’t help but be moved by what they see,” he said.

Remarking that the artist, almost like a mother, is a woman who is “absolutely observing constantly, not with the clinical cold eye of the journalist, but with the passionate, warm, loving eye of a guardian angel”, Mr Magan said it gave him the “greatest of pleasure” and was “a great honour” to open ‘The Living Fabric’ exhibition.

In her contribution, Teresa Doyle thanked everyone who had attended the opening of the exhibition, which she said was “a culmination of work from 2020 until now” and that, while she had not had a chance to observe the exhibition in its new space, she added that “the excitement is fierce”.

She read out a long list of thanks yous to the many people who had helped shape her journey as an artist and who had assisted in bringing her work to the attention of the wider public with the exhibition.

The north Westmeath based artist, who is a native of Offaly, is a graduate in fine art from Limerick College of Art and Design and makes handmade dolls in her workshop at Ranaghan, near Collinstown, where she lives with her husband, Tommy ‘Jogger’ Doyle, and their three adult children, Thomas, Brendan and Mary.

Teresa uses a wide range of fabrics and accessories given to her by people who wish to have them incorporated into dolls as a means of remembering a loved one, or honouring a significant event in their life. Her ‘memory dolls’ are bespoke one-off creations which, in time, she hopes will become treasured family heirlooms to be passed down through the generations.

All but three of the handcrafted dolls on display in ‘The Living Fabric’ exhibition are for sale, and Teresa says she would ideally like to see one the four group exhibits which form part of the exhibition being purchased by a commercial buyer and going on display in a hotel, restaurant, hospital, school or other educational facility.

One of the group pieces – ‘The Living Fabric – features 10 unique dolls including one wearing the blue and yellow colours of the Ukrainian flag and wearing a St Patrick’s Day badge with the word ‘peace’ hand-stitched into it. Thee collection also features three generations of women.

Each of the four group pieces, including one called ‘Decade of the Rosary’, is aimed at the corporate market, but the artist points out that art is “an investment” and she describes the group works as “visual social statements” that will endure and be a focal point of discussion for future generations.