Queen's favourite sculptor awaits his royal invitation
NOBODY is more pleased at the queen's visit than one of her favourite artists -- an Irishman.
Mayo-based sculptor and painter Rick Lewis confirmed that he had not -- yet -- received a royal invitation, but hopes to eventually meet Queen Elizabeth. Eight of his works of art are held privately by the queen in her private collection at Buckingham Palace.
He was also commissioned by the queen mother to portray Prince Charles's inauguration as Master of the Royal Order of Bath. The piece is unique as it is the only representation of Prince Charles which shows him with a moustache -- grown while away at sea.
His work as a sculptor and painter gained international renown throughout the 1970s and 1980s as a result of the royal commissions, while he was also sought after to produce special pieces for US President Richard Nixon, US President George Bush, President Patrick Hillery, and the King of Malaysia.
Although born in Co Down, he worked for much of his life in London with the prestigious firm of Thomas Goode and Co -- the fine art supplier has warrants to supply the royal family -- and later in New Zealand.
While in New Zealand, he was requested to sculpt a one-off piece of a kingfisher, which was presented to Prince Charles and Princess Diana when they made a state visit in 1983.
His most notable work for the people of New Zealand is a Kiwi which resides in the "Beehive" -- the centre of the parliament building in Wellington.
Known as 'Proud Kiwi', an image of the sculpture adorns gold coins produced by the New Zealand mint.
Mr Lewis was later presented with the MBE and ARA for his contribution to art and design in New Zealand.
Following his return to Ireland in 1992 he produced paintings for presentation to Presidents Robinson and McAleese, and also created a sculpture of the racehorse Arkle, as a presentation piece for former Taoiseach Albert Reynolds.
Currently the artist-in-residence at Ashford Castle, he has also painted and sculpted several pieces for Knock Shrine.
Some years ago the queen wrote to him to express her admiration. Now he is hopeful of one day meeting her.
"I have received no word from the queen this time, but I did receive a letter from her once, saying that she never realised how much work I had done and that all my pieces of hers were kept in her private apartment for her visitors to see," he said.