Philomena Kennedy Biography
Artist Philomena Kennedy exhibited her stunning pastoral paintings in locations ranging from the coastal town of Deal in Kent to the Pastoral Centre in New York.
Born in London in 1932, it quickly became apparent that Kennedy had inherited her amateur painter father's love of the arts. She attended the Watford School of Art and then the acclaimed Manchester College of Art, at which she gained her Art Teacher's Diploma.
Kennedy's secondary passion was travelling. In her early twenties she taught English in Italy and later in her life spent time in the Middle East. Kennedy was inspired by the landscapes of Iraq and Syria. She also loved visiting Morocco, Turkey, Russia and the United States. Undoubtedly the diverse cultural and artistic background of her travel destinations shaped Kennedy's views on life and painting. Her travelling was to influence her artistic output for the remainder of her life.
Kennedy and Dover :
Despite having travelled the world, Kennedy had a lifelong love affair with Kent. She first visited the country during the Second World War, when she was evacuated to Hinxhill. She returned in her late twenties and began teaching art at Dover Grammar School for Girls.
At Dover Grammar, Kennedy was an enthusiastic, committed and inherently original teacher, passing on to her students her love for calligraphy and embroidery. She helped to run the school's Photographic Society and reimagined countless school productions with her vividly artistic stage sets, props and programme designs. She even made appearances in school productions herself!
Throughout her life Kennedy had a thirst for learning and adventure. In the late 1970s she gained her Advanced Diploma of Art Education at University College London. She continued to travel extensively and always recorded her adventures through her photography and in her beautifully intricate journals.
After her retirement, Kennedy began to concentrate more exclusively on her art. She was inspired by her beautiful home on Roman Way in St Margaret's at Cliffe, where she had her own studio and garden. In the 1980s and 90s, Kennedy's art was exhibited across the world. Despite this international acclaim, Kennedy showed herself to be committed to Dover; she was keen to improve the town and to preserve its vast cultural heritage.
In 1988, Kennedy proposed the founding of the Dover Society which aimed to inform the public about Dover's geography, history and archaeology and to secure the preservation and development of features of historic or public interest. In the Society's first newsletter, Kennedy wrote: "we hope and expect that the Dover Society will be able to make a lively and positive contribution to the future of our famous and ancient town and that of the pleasant villages nearby."
Kennedy edited the Society's newsletter for several years and thanks to her artistic talents, the newsletter was a work of art in itself. Each edition was beautifully illustrated, often featuring her signature calligraphy and always carefully compiled and researched.
Kennedy's legacy remains vast: her beautiful artwork remains popular and for the people of Kent is seen as the perfect depiction of the idyllic Kentish countryside. Philomena Kennedy's legacy stretches beyond her artwork, however: she is also remembered for her commitment to teaching, helping others and better understanding the world.
Source Dover Museum.