Delightful art exhibition opens in Donegal

New Zealand-born artist has solo exhibition in the town she now calls home

Miriam Venables Doran art

A selection of the artwork of Miriam Venables Doran is on display in Bundoran, and anyone going along to the exhibition is certainly in for a treat.

Like the artist herself, Ms Venables Doran’s paintings are full of colour and texture, with a few trinkets and other items of interest added for good measure.

There are few straight lines; instead there are layers of interest that draw the eye to a different focal point every time.

This is a recent selection of works by an artist who has led an interesting life, tinged with pain and loss, but with a richness that one senses is growing all the time.

Ms Venables Doran was born in Auckland, New Zealand in 1951. Her father was renowned New Zealand artist and art lecturer, Mark Venables. 

Having spent many years in London, Ms Venables Doran moved to Bundoran in 1998 with her late husband Tony. The couple moved to Roscommon and were enjoying life there when tragedy struck. 

Ms Venables vividly remembers the night that gardaí came to her.

“It was a horribly wet night and Tony had been at a wake,” she said. “I heard a knock and I thought, ‘Tony, you’ve got your key.’ 

“I went to the door and there were two guards there. I knew something serious had happened.”

Tony had died in a road traffic collision.

Ms Venables Doran found it very difficult to stay in the couple’s Roscommon home after her husband’s untimely death. 

She eventually moved back to Bundoran, where she found that the sea had a very therapeutic influence. She has lived there ever since and is very much part of the community, having volunteered with the Saint Vincent de Paul (SVP) until recently.

Along with what she describes as a diverse range group of people, Ms Venables Doran enjoys sea-swimming.

“I go swimming off Bundoran Pier almost every day unless it is too rough,” she said. “I go with some locals. They are a great range of people from all walks of life and professions.”

Despite being exposed to art from an early age, Ms Venables Doran didn’t begin painting until she was 39. Her passion developed into an art and she has previously exhibited in Origin Gallery owned by Noelle Campbell Sharpe.

She has had two solo shows, one in Dublin and one at Solas in Ballinamore.

And always keen to develop and grow as an artist, Ms Venables Doran completed a degree in Fine Art at the age of 65.

She is full of praise for Sligo IT and urges anyone thinking of returning to education to give it a try.

“I would most definitely encourage people,” she said. “Education is very accessible now. Obviously you still have to work at it but I was well supported at Sligo IT. I am a bit dyslexic and they were very helpful.”

Ms Venables Doran’s current ‘Recent Works’ collection is her first to be exhibited in her adopted home of Bundoran.

“I’m excited about it,” she said. “It took me a long time to select the right paintings and to put them in a way that there was something for everyone.”

The exhibition runs in Buoys and Gulls from February 4 to March 4.

“It’s in a lovely cafe, right beside the sea,” said Ms Venables Doran. “It is even a cafe that accepts dogs. I hope people come along and see the paintings for themselves.”

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