Acclaimed artist Pauline Bewick has died peacefully at her residence in Glenbeigh, Co Kerry at the age of 86.
Ms Bewick died in the presence of her family at her home in Treanmanagh on Thursday afternoon. She will lie in repose there from 4-8pm this Sunday in advance of a private family cremation at the Island Crematorium in Ringaskiddy, Co Cork on Monday.
Pauline Bewick was born in the north of England but was raised primarily in Co Kerry. Mainly self taught, although she did attend the National College of Art and Design in 1950, her creativity found an outlet early in life as her earliest sketches survive from when she was aged two and a half. She had her first exhibition in 1957 in the Clog Gallery, Dublin after which she moved to London. There, BBC Television commissioned Pauline to illustrate and write a series of ten minute programs called “Little Jimmy”. The income from this allowed her to spend time travelling Greece and around the Mediterranean.
She had an exhibition of some 1,500 works entitled ‘Two to Fifty’, held at the Guinness Storehouse in 1986. Well known for her watercolour work, she has also created stained glass, oil paintings and sculptures.
On turning 70, Pauline donated five hundred pieces of her life’s work to the State including tapestries, wall hangings, watercolours and sketches. The Seven Ages Collection represents each decade and facet of a woman’s life, and are on display in Waterford and Kerry. A member of both Aosdána and the RHA, she has exhibited at the Taylor Galleries in Dublin, Frank Lewis Gallery in Killarney and Catto Gallery in London.
On Friday afternoon, President Michael D Higgins said that he looks back with “such fondness” on a recent visit to her studio in Kerry last November.
Statement by President Higgins on the death of Pauline Bewick
“As President of Ireland, and on behalf of Sabina, I know that we will be among the many in Ireland and beyond who will have heard with deep sadness of the death of our dear friend, the renowned artist Pauline Bewick,” he said.
“Pauline’s life of generosity was exemplified by her gifting of over 500 pieces of her life’s work to the Irish nation on her seventieth birthday.
“Sabina joins with me in sending our deep condolences to Pauline’s daughters Poppy and Holly, sons-in-law, grandchildren, niece and nephew and her wider family and her many friends. Suaimhneas síoraí dá hanam.”
Cathaoirleach of Kenmare Municipal District, Cllr Patrick O’Connor- Scarteen, told The Irish Times that that Ms Bewick accomplished an extraordinary amount in her lifetime.
“She had a great life. She fitted a lot in to it. She had a wonderful family and they too (her daughters) are very artistic and creative. Pauline was an English lady but she really fell for Kerry and the landscape and the people and she encapsulated a lot of it in her work and her art from people she met, characters in the area and so on. She spent a vast majority of her life in Killorglin and she was always very generous with her time and helping the community. Even donating art. She made a great contribution.
In 2019 Ms Bewick was presented with the Kerry Association in Dublin Arts award at a ceremony in Aras an Uachtarain with President Michael D Higgins and Sabina Higgins.
President Higgins said the award was an important acknowledgment of all Ms Bewick has given to the cultural and artistic dimension of Irish society throughout her career.
“Hers is the journey of an artist who has always followed her own path, who reflects on the world in her own unique way, eluding categorisation, refusing to fit in to any one genre.
“For Pauline art is about freedom, the freedom to imagine all that is possible, to create worlds without boundaries, unconditional landscapes where anything is conceivable. Her work is, as a result, expression in its truest form, unburdened by purpose or expectation, pulling us away from the everyday and towards alternate existences.”
The mayor of Kerry, John Francis Flynn also paid tribute to the late Ms Bewick. The artist was a well-known figure in Kerry and a familiar figure in Killorglin to which she donated an important collection.
“I am greatly saddened to hear of Pauline Bewick’s passing. Pauline was a much loved Kerry artist, and one of Ireland’s most acclaimed and charismatic painters,” he said. “Pauline kindly donated her ‘Seven Ages’ collection to Kerry County Council. This stunning collection spans her life’s work, with 250 pieces rotated on display at Library Place Killorglin. Pauline was a true artist, prolific and passionate, her work will inspire generations to come.”
Also paying tribute was the Arts Officer for Kerry, Kate Kennelly, a friend of the late artist.
“It was a privilege to have meet Pauline many times over the past twenty years. Her love of Kerry; its landscape, people and culture is warmly reflected across her works. We have lost a truly creative soul, and our thoughts are with her family at this sad time,” Ms Kennelly said.
She is survived by her daughters, Poppy and Holly Melia and four grandchildren. In lieu of flowers the family has asked that donations, if desired, be made to www.kerryhospice.com