Pauline Bewick was born on 4 September 1935 into a family descended from the Northumbrian wood engraver and naturalist Thomas Bewick. The formative influence on Pauline’s early life, however, was her mother, Alice (‘Harry’) Graham Bewick, who, in 1938, ran away to Ireland from her husband, bringing Pauline and her older sister Hazel to Kenmare, a small town in Co. Kerry. There they fostered two orphaned children, Lucy and Michael, living together for six years on an isolated farm — this story is told in A Wild Taste. Harry, always, encouraged the children to paint and draw, and at the age of 2½, Pauline did her first pencil sketches progressing within a few years to oils and poster paints. These early works survive, as Harry kept them through their travels in a battered suitcase. Indeed these works are now to be seen as part of Pauline’s Seven Ages Collections donated to the Irish State in 2006
When the family moved from Kerry they first lived briefly in Northern Ireland, before enrolling Pauline for progressive schooling, first in England then Wales. Later living on a houseboat on the Kennet and Avon canal, Pauline painted copiously, instead of doing her homework which was difficult due to her dyslexia. In 1949, they returned to Ireland living first in Cork then Kerry. In 1950 Pauline went to the National College of Art. In Dublin she met Pat Melia, a young medical student, with whom she formed a lifelong relationship. There they enjoyed a vibrant, creative and cultural life. Pauline was commissioned to illustrate books and magazines, she sang in a nightclub and became a set designer and actor with the famous Pike Theatre.
She had her first exhibition in 1957 in the Clog Gallery, Dublin after which she moved to London. There she successfully exhibited her paintings at the Leicester Galleries and the Piccadilly Galleries. 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.
In 1963 Pauline moved back to Dublin and married Pat. Poppy was born in 1966 and Holly in 1970. Pauline yearned for a country up bringing for the girls, the family moved to Kerry in 1973 where Pat took a job at the Psychiatric Hospital in Killarney. They built their home in a beautiful remote valley by Caragh Lake
The past 35 years have seen Pauline’s work develop into an internationally recognisable style, becoming an integral part of Ireland’s cultural legacy. The artist herself, however, continues to follow her own path. Over the years she has created work which reflect her own philosophies, such as the Yellow Man, her ideal being. She lived with the Maurie people for over two years in the South Pacific, painting and writing, hoping to find the perfect society.
On turning 70, Pauline donated 500 pieces of her life’s work to the Irish Nation. The Seven Ages Collection represents each decade and facet of a woman’s life, and are on display in Waterfordand Kerry. A further traveling collection of 250 pieces are available to exhibit worldwide.
To this day Pauline’s artistic work is central to her life. She remains rooted in the present. She is always open to new artistic challenges.