Sheehy was born in the South-West of Ireland in 1949, and immigrated to London in the 1960’s, where he lives and works. He began painting at the age of 51 and has produced a vast body of work over 18 years that also includes printmaking, ceramics, sculpture, playwriting and music.
His paintings of rural scenes show seemingly familiar or everyday moments, of domestic or working life. Sheehy frequently returns to vernacular subjects which might initially appear folksy: farm animals, sailing boats, churches and terraced houses, however, when repeated across numerous works they gain a talismanic, otherworldly character. Rather than nostalgic, these works are a record of lived experience.
Sheehy describes the physical act of making as central to his practice. The accelerated pace at which he produces work is extraordinary, with an energy that suggests the artist’s urgent need to capture or perhaps, expel these images.
Curated by Lorna Coxall of Outpost, the social enterprise shop and gallery of Peter Bedford Housing Association, in conversation with the artist. He considers the selected works spanning 18 years to be part of a single and total narrative. In response to viewing the works together, Sheehy wrote a new poem, The Gap, which captures the spirit of the exhibition in words, evoking echoes of past rural life.
Peter Bedford Housing Association (PBHA) are proud to provide a platform for John Sheehy at Outpost, as part of PBHA’s Big Lottery funded Supporting Makers programme. The programme provides opportunities for artists and makers experiencing barriers to accessing the art world. Participants are supported to become creative entrepreneurs and to develop, showcase and sell their work.
Previous solo exhibitions include: John Sheehy, Studio Voltaire, London (2017),
No Time for Tears, Outpost, London (2016); An Introspective, Atom Gallery, London (2015); Through My Hand, Outpost, London (2015); The Colours Choose Me, The House Gallery, London (2014); and Dreaming With My Eyes Open, Novas Gallery, London (2008). Group exhibitions include: Heretics - An Introduction to Outsider Art, Redwing Gallery, Penzance (2015); and Urban Networks, Courtauld Institute, London (2003).
With thanks to Studio Voltaire.