Lives Remembered

Gladys McCabe: Distinguished painter of people and supporter of women artists

Artist Gladys McCabe has died aged 99

Gladys Maccabe was intensely interested in people.

Her colourful paintings would depict gatherings at racecourses, town squares or fairs, often featuring glamorous ladies in large hats reflecting her own wonderful sense of style.

She was a feminist long before it was fashionable in conservative Northern Ireland, forming the Ulster Society of Women Artists in 1957 to encourage other talented young women.

The society has gone from strength to strength and has just celebrated its 60th anniversary.

Gladys also saw no religious boundaries and worked as an arts correspondent during the 1960s and '70s for newspapers including the Irish Independent and The Irish News, and was fashion correspondent for the News Letter and BBC Northern Ireland.

For many years after that she was arts editor of the Ulster Tatler.

She continued painting and travelling to exhibitions right into her 90s, and her funeral on Wednesday was a joyous celebration of her long and fulfilled life.

Gladys was born in Randalstown in 1918 to creative parents - her father, a former Scottish soldier, was an artist while her mother was a designer with the Old Bleach Linen Company.

As a 16-year-old she had a picture published in the Royal Drawing Society’s magazine and she went on to study at the Belfast College of Art.

Her developing talent as an oil painter was widely recognised by other artists and in 1957 William Conor sat for her. The portrait now hangs in the Ulster Museum.

Gladys married artist and musician Max Maccabe in 1941 and they exhibited together and were members of the Contemporary Ulster Group alongside Gerard Dillon and others.

In 1980 she was awarded an honorary MA by Queen’s University Belfast and in 2000 the MBE for services to the arts. She was also an honorary academician of the Royal Ulster Academy and an honorary senior member of the Royal Institute of Oil Painters.

Her works are in many permanent collections nationally and internationally including the Ulster Museum, the Arts Council of Ireland and the Imperial War Museum.

Gladys Maccabe died aged 99 on February 22. Predeceased by her husband Max and son Hugh, she is survived by her son Chris and family circle.

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Lives Remembered