ARTIST Pauline Bewick believes in telling it like it is. “People might think I’m bohemian because I tell the truth,” she says. “I don’t expect other people to be outspoken like me but I am outspoken without being offensive — I hope.”
She’s also been open about her past relationships with men while married to psychiatrist Pat Melia, who died in 2016 following a long battle with Alzheimer’s disease.
“I would get a crush, or fall for somebody and then I would go back to Pat. In the large sum of life, it was always Pat I loved.”
After he died she initially thought it was a relief for him. But a few months later she was swamped by grief. “I was struck terribly by his having gone. I thought I’m never going to see him again and and that still lingers. They say it can last two to four years and I can believe it.”
She keeps Pat’s ashes on a shelf in the kitchen where they will stay until her own ashes join his. But she’s a lot of living to do in the meantime.
Aged 83, the Kerry-based mother of two and grandmother, continues to paint and admits to having “tiny fantasies” about a romance. But it stops there. “I realise – no... I’d have to change and become more polite.”
Pauline Bewick is in conversation with Niall MacMonagle at the The Listowel Writer’s Week tomorrow. See: writersweek.ie What shape are you in? I had a stroke about four years ago and I find it hard to take, for instance, that there is a weakness in my legs.
My head isn’t quite as clear. But there are advantages too. The stroke has opened another door in my head and paintings that come out of that dark hole are really, really good.
I go for a walk every day. I do exercises though it’s very hard to make myself do exercises. I should do much more — training my legs to work better. I recently found a wonderful woman who teaches yoga.
What are your healthiest eating habits?
I’ve been a lifelong vegetarian. But I do eat fish. I also eat a lot of salad, fruit, vegetables, along with local honey and yogurt. I’ve got too slim since my stroke even though I eat like a horse.
What are your guiltiest pleasures?
I would feel guilty if someone caught me looking at rubbish on television. I don’t look up what’s on, I just turn on and watch. The only thing I would switch off is the news. What would keep you awake at night? I sleep well but if I’m having fun and we’re all having a laugh I can stay awake for an age. How do you relax? Painting makes me very happy even if it’s a horrible subject. If I’m getting it right then, oh wow! I also like having a laugh with my friends. Who would you invite to your dream dinner party? Meryl Streep. I think she’s a fascinating woman. I have a very small percentage of DNA in common with her. Graham Norton — he opened one of my exhibitions. And then I’d have the rest of the table filled with my lifelong friends. What’s your favourite smell? I like the smell of natural things like honeysuckle.
What would you like to change about your appearance?
I’d like to cut the number of wrinkles I have by half. I’ve never had Botox. I’d be afraid of the aftereffects. When I see people who have had it and it’s always very obvious — you wonder what will happen in years to come. I don’t like jowls. If I had them I’d definitely have a facelift.
When is the last time you cried?
Two weeks ago when I heard an animal in pain. You can’t explain anything to it. I cry every time I see animals being taken in trucks to the abattoir to be killed.
What traits do you least like in others?
A narrow-minded person who is unable to even try to understand the opposing view.
What traits do you least like about yourself?
I like things now because if I don’t get things now [the moment] goes and another now gets in the way of it. I must be impatient. Instead of calling my book Eighty, I thought of calling it Now. Do you pray? I don’t. I have no religion. Instead, I wish. I would say into the environment, ‘I wish for good weather’. But I’m not speaking to anyone.
What would cheer up your day?
I think it would be wonderful if every country had a university with a department that studied war. We need to understand why we have the urge for war.
“I cry every time I see animals being taken in trucks”
SLIM LINE: Pauline Bewick has lost weight since her stroke even though she eats “like a horse”.