President Michael D Higgins has paid tribute to the artist Pauline Bewick, who has died at the age of 86.

Born in England in 1935, Ms Bewick began drawing when she was two years old. She studied at NCAD in Dublin and lived between England and Ireland, before settling in Co Kerry in 1973.

She worked in a variety of mediums, and her work included the Yellow Man series.

When she turned 70, she donated 500 pieces of her life's work to the nation, including tapestries, wall hangings, watercolours and sketches.

Pauline Bewick, pictured in 2001

President Higgins said: "It is with such fondness that I look back on a visit to Pauline's studio in Kerry last November. Sabina and I were so honoured to have this time with Pauline and her daughters, in the presence of so much of her lifetime’s work - watercolours, tapestries, wall-hangings and sketches, all expressions of what was a unique and original creative talent."

He said: "We who had the privilege of her friendship could but admire her commitment to always following her own path, reflecting on the world in her own unique way, refusing to fit into any one genre and creating worlds without boundaries."

In a social media post, Taoiseach Micheál Martin said he was "very sad to hear of the passing of artist Pauline Bewick".

"She made a wonderful contribution to Irish art over many decades. Deepest sympathies to all of her children, grandchildren, family and friends," he said.

The Seven Ages collection, representing each decade and facet of a woman's life, is on display in both Waterford and Kerry.

Pauline Bewick held her first exhibition in 1957, although some sketches survive from when she was aged just two-and-a-half.

She travelled widely, and her experience of other cultures informed her work.

Bewick was an ambassador for Culture Night in 2017

She was based in Glenbeigh, Co Kerry since 1973 and drew much inspiration from its people, flora and fauna. She was presented with the Kerry Association in Dublin Arts Award in 2019 by President Michael D Higgins, who said the award was an important acknowledgement of all that Pauline has gifted to the
cultural and artistic dimension of our society, throughout a long and distinguished artistic career.

Ms Bewick was a member of Aosdána.

Her family say she died peacefully at home last night.

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Listen: Pauline Bewick talks to Miriam O'Callaghan in 2016

The mayor of Kerry, John Francis Flynn said: "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. 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," she said. "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.