A delighted Tory McNeill pictured at her Waterside home with some of the artwork which will be on display at two exhibitions. Photo: Jim McCafferty Photography)
Young Derry girl Tori McNeill is looking forward to hosting her second art exhibition this week in not one but two venues across the city.
“True Colours” will be opened at the Waterside Theatre this Friday and continue at the Garden of Reflection Gallery, Bishop Street, on Monday, 18 November, as part of Youth19.
The 20-years-old Waterside woman, with Down Syndrome and who was diagnosed with autism shortly after last year’s exhibition, has gone from strength to strength with over 80 paintings completed for the two upcoming events.
Known for her stunning use of colour and unique style, her love and passion for her craft shines out from her work with so much care shown in every stroke. Described by her art teacher, Karen Torley, as someone who ‘paints mainly in acrylics and watercolours but over the last year has grown so much as an artist both in ability and confidence,’ and testament to this is shown by her large Facebook following and the great support she receives from all over the country.
“I love painting because it makes me happy and gives me confidence,’ said Tori, as she relaxes in the comfort of her Waterside home among a number of paintings she recently finished for the exhibition,” said Tori.
‘I called the exhibition ‘True Colours’ because I like bright colours and love the song since I heard it when it was being used for Autism Awareness.’
Looking forward to her daughter’s upcoming exhibitions, mum, Dara, said she has seen Tori change for the better since taking up art. “There has been so many positive benefits since Tori has started to paint and we are so glad that she has found what she truly loves doing. We are all very proud of her,” she said.
The budding young artist has many strings to her bow and presently has a work placement once a week in an office under the guidance of Habinteg Housing and is supported by Mencap. The young Waterside woman is also a keen photographer in her spare time.
Tori is also been supported by the Foyle Down Syndrome Trust where she presently learns printing skills under their social enterprise programme and she put these skills to good use recently by printing her own posters and invites for the upcoming exhibitions. But it’s art that is still her first love and its where she’s directing all her energy to become and make a career of being a professional artist.
Karen Torley, Banyan Theatre and Tori’s art tutor agrees. “Since I started working with Tori three years ago she has grown so much in her talents and confidence. We work together weekly on new paintings but have daily discussions on art and new ideas. Watching her development as an artist gives me so much joy, she is the highlight of my week.”
Hoping for a great turnout at the two events, Tori’s mum Dara added: ‘All any parent wants for their children is for them to be happy and she is so happy when she is painting.’
Tori’s exhibitions will take place at the Waterside Theatre from Friday, 8th November and the second will start at the Garden of Reflection on Monday, 18th November.
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