Lindy Guinness: 'Artist, conservationist and cow connoisseur'
THE Marchioness of Dufferin and Ava, also known as Lindy Guinness, described herself on her Instagram page as an "artist, conservationist and cow connoisseur".
The last bit was not a joke. Her prize-winning herd of pedigree Jersey and Holstein cattle not only paid the bills at her 2,000-acre Clandeboye estate outside Bangor, they also provided the inspiration for many of her paintings.
The two came together in the prize-winning yoghurt she produced, with an image of her 'ladies' displayed on millions of pots sold to date.
Lady Dufferin joked that this made her "the most famous disposable artist in the world".
Painting had been a passion throughout the life of the ebullient aristocrat, who was bequeathed Clandeboye's Georgian house and gorgeous grounds following the death of her husband in 1988.
Born Serena Belinda Rosemary Guinness in Scotland in 1941, she was raised initially in Belvoir Castle in Leicestershire, the family seat of the dukes of Rutland on her mother's side.
Her parents divorced when she was nine and after her financier father, Loel Guinness, married Mexican socialite Gloria Rubio, she spent much of her teenage years in Palm Beach, Florida, where Truman Capote was a house guest and she went diving with Jacques Cousteau.
She also struck a friendship with painter Duncan Grant, more than 50 years her senior, who would be a huge influence on her life.
Lindy studied art in Salzburg and the Chelsea and Slade schools and exhibited over the years in England, Ireland, Paris and New York.
She married Sheridan Hamilton-Temple-Blackwood in 1964 and they set about restoring his family's Clandeboye estate to its former glory.
Their parties would boast eclectic guest lists, from Prince Charles to leading artists including David Hockney, who drew her several times.
The Troubles did not stop her opening her home to visitors, and among her subjects for paintings was Ian Paisley.
"Many of my English friends were deeply concerned about my security but understood I had total confidence about being both a Guinness and a Dufferin and [was] proud of both these cross-border Irish connections," she said.
In the 1970s Lady Dufferin was responsible for Conservation Volunteers setting up their Northern Ireland base in the estate. She also opened its extensive woodland to groups of schoolchildren to learn about the natural environment and enjoy outdoor play.
The Ava Gallery, meanwhile, regularly hosted exhibitions of Irish art.
Lady Dufferin produced a huge number of paintings herself, spending many hours happily studying her cows against the Co Down landscape and posting the results on social media.
She died on October 26 aged 79 and her contributions in the fields of business, art and the environment were widely praised.