Bernadette Kiely hails from Carrick-on-Suir, Co. Tipperary. She studied at the School of Art, Waterford, 1975-1977 and 1982-1983 and has had solo exhibitions at the Butler Gallery, Limerick, City Art Gallery, and Crawford Gallery, Cork (all in 1994), Sligo Art Gallery and the Hallward Gallery, Dublin (1995), and the Taylor Galleries, Dublin (1998). She has also had a joint exhibition with Brian Bourke at the Galway Art Centre (1995). Aidan Dunne wrote of her work: "They are vigorously made with echoes of such 'painterly' painters as Howard Hodgkin, Gillian Ayres and Albert Irwin, but Kiely is a formidable talent with her own distinctive voice" (The Sunday Tribune, 22 August, 1993). In 2007 she became a member of Aosdαna.