A novel postcard exhibition by An Post is currently running in Mullingar.
It features postcards designed and made by people from all across Ireland, including RTÉ’s Joe Duffy who submitted an “abstract” contribution on traffic.
The idea was the brainchild of Westmeath artist Teresa Doyle and artist Edel O’Reilly Flynn.
“Edel was studying in America and was going to come back to Ireland. We talked about something we might do creatively,” says Teresa who has been working in the community through art for the last 15 years.
In 2006 they invited people to send postcards to them and got 500.
This led to an exhibition at the arts centre in Mullingar in early 2007 and an article in one of the local papers was spotted by Barney Whelan head of corporate affairs with An Post, who got in touch with the women wondering was there another chapter in the postcard story.
An Post C Both Sides was launched in November 2007 at Gallery of Photography in Temple Bar and postcards from the original exhibition were on display.
Throughout 2008 people were invited to send postcards with a different theme each month and workshops to support the themes were held.
These included working with elderly people at St Vincent’s Hospital in Mountmellick, 25 Traveller women from across the Midlands meeting in Tullamore, and a Bealtaine-related workshop at Castlepollard Library attended by people from the Coole Drop In Centre.
12 male prisoners at Limerick Prison and migrants from across Dublin were also involved in workshops.
The postcards are on view at Market Place in Mullingar, exhibited in old An Post sorting presses, an idea thought up by Wicklow artist and designer Edel Coffey.
Helen Carey, who is curator of the exhibition, ran the Irish College in Paris until recently.
Teresa says there are a few thought-provoking postcards, including one from a lady who had lost her son to a road traffic accident. It features crosses at the side of the road urging people to think.
There’s also “a most beautiful drawing from a child - different from anything I’ve seen before – of Croke Park from the outside. It’s a most beautiful illustration, very striking, I would love to see if in 20 years time he turns out to be an architect”.
Westmeath artist Ursula Meehan also worked quite a bit on the project from when it began, and has been filming it with the intention that in late 2009 there’ll be a short documentary.
Teresa says she’s “absolutely delighted” the exhibition has come home to Mullingar and it runs until August 1.