Sarah Doyle is fascinated by fame and the emulation of idols in popular culture. Currently adorning the walls of the Transition gallery in London, her faux naïve paintings of worn out starlets are created using tools of teenhood amd explore the delirium of fame and fandom.
Words: Heather Blair
Ask someone to recall their formative teenage years and the chances are you'd be confronted with two very conflicting responses - there's those who reminisce with joy at those heady, hormonal days of fun and freedom and those instead, who recoil with horror at the thought of returning to a life of greasy hair, body piercings and long mornings spent battling quadratic equations.
Lying firmly between these two camps is the work of London based artist, Sarah Doyle. Expressive and engaging, Doyle's work calls on the iconography of popular culture in order to produce an impressive dialogue between youth and adulthood.
Currently exhibiting work in "Too Much is Not Enough," a group show at the Transition Gallery in Hackney, much of Doyle's work recalls those moments of adolescence that a lot of us have pushed to the furthest reaches of our consciousness. "I tend to use the teenage years more as a symbol of feeling fragile, socially inept or awkward," Doyle describes. "I am interested in the times when we are unsure of ourselves, when our insecurities are very close to the surface."
Born in Sunderland, with time spent in Leeds and Zambia while growing up, Doyle's practice recalls the need to establish identity and the unashamed desire to fit in which consumes nearly all of us at some point in our early lives.
"I try to hold up a mirror with my work so that others can see themselves and their own insecurities and longings there too." Doyle explains. It is through this somewhat cathartic exorcism of her own adolescence that Doyle creates portraits which address standard teenage neuroses with nostalgia and a wry smile.
Using recognisable faces established firmly within popular culture and by playing on the kitschiness of mostly American iconography, Doyle revisits the influence that idols (usually in the form of musicians and film stars) can have when growing up. Highlighting the inherent need within young women to emulate icons and celebrities, Doyle subverts this thought in her most current animated work at Transition.
"The actresses in this series of work are playing other actresses in biopics. Often these actresses are connected to the person they are playing, in that they have been fans of them or admire them. Some of the actresses concerned have actually produced the biopics themselves and are so determined to play their heroines."
By bringing our attention to those who may be icons to our own personal icons, Doyle's work instigates a reevaluation of our very understanding of the notion of celebrities and in some way, goes towards demystifying the celestial status that many of us attribute to those that we particularly admire.