President Higgins pays tribute to Kerry artist Pauline Bewick
Speaker Michael D Higgins led the tributes to artist Pauline Bewick, who died at her home in County Kerry.
Bewick, 86, had battled cancer and died at her home in Treanmanagh, Glenbeigh on Thursday evening, surrounded by her family.
President Higgins recalled Bewick’s visit to Áras an Uachtaráin in 2019 and his own trip to artist Kerry’s studio last November. “Sabina and I were very honored to have this moment with Pauline and her daughters, in the presence of much of her life’s work – watercolours, tapestries, wall hangings and sketches, all expressions of what was a unique and original creative talent,” said President Higgins.
“It was there in her studio in Kerry where she always returned and where Pauline spent so many years, between all her travels, with her family while producing works of astonishing artistic brilliance.”
Bewick was born in England, but moved to Ireland with her mother Harry as a child. She studied at the National College of Art and Design and had her first solo exhibition at the Clog Gallery in Dublin in 1957.
In 1963, she married psychiatrist Patrick Melia. They lived in Dublin for a time, before settling in County Kerry.
In 2018 Bewick told the Irish Examiner how to cope with life after a stroke. “The shot opened another door in my head and the paintings coming out of that black hole are really, really good,” she said.
She also opened up about her love for Melia, who died following a battle with Alzheimer’s disease two years prior. “I had a crush, or I fell in love with someone, and then I would come back to Pat. In the great sum of life, it was always Pat that I loved.
Bewick was a member of Aosdána and the Royal Hibernian Academy. She has exhibited at prestigious venues such as the Taylor Galleries in Dublin, and her work has featured in many public collections, including that of the Crawford Art Gallery in Cork.
“We would have borrowed works from Pauline for a number of group exhibitions over the years,” says Anne Boddaert, curator at Crawford. “We had also acquired a large painting of her called Family, Co Wicklow for our collection. Pauline was a regular visitor to the gallery, seeing the exhibitions of other artists. She was a really interesting painter and a great character.
In 2005, Bewick donated over 500 works of art to the Irish state. The Seven Ages collection depicted the different stages of a woman’s life and included watercolours, wall hangings and tapestries, as well as sketches she had made as a child. The works are now on permanent display in Waterford and Kerry.
In 2019 Bewick was presented with the Kerry Association in Dublin Arts Award by President Michael D Higgins and Sabina at a ceremony in Aras an Uachtaráin. On this occasion, President Higgins described how, “for Pauline, art is about freedom, the freedom to imagine all that is possible, to create worlds without borders, unconditional landscapes where everything is conceivable” .
Bewick is survived by their daughters Poppy and Holly and their families.