Renowned artist: Why I voted for Pe­ter Casey

Pain­ter claims Trav­ellers asked him to sign forg­eries and pre­tend they were his

The Irish Mail on Sunday - - COMMENT - By Anne Sheri­dan

A RENOWNED artist claimed that he voted for Pe­ter Casey in the Pres­i­den­tial elec­tion be­cause he has been ‘ha­rassed’ by Trav­ellers for years.

John Shin­nors, whose ab­stract paint­ings sold for up to €70,000 dur­ing the boom, told the Ir­ish Mail on Sun­day that he agreed with Mr Casey’s views, and said he be­lieves he is not the only artist who has been ‘ha­rassed’ by cer­tain Trav­ellers.

‘I gave him my num­ber one. I was ha­rassed by Trav­ellers for years,

‘They only want to sell it on to some­one else’

par­tic­u­larly dur­ing the boom, and I am not talk­ing about iso­lated in­ci­dents.’

The con­tro­ver­sial Lim­er­ick artist said: ‘They have called to my door at all hours of the day and night, de­mand­ing that I sell them work, in a very per­ni­cious way, I have to say.

‘I was able to han­dle it, but my wife found it a bit dis­tress­ing. They have even called to one of my neigh­bours look­ing for me. One time, they forced their way through her home, out into her back gar­den, to get to mine,’ he told the MoS.

Asked if he had sold any of his works to Trav­ellers, he said: ‘No. You would only be ask­ing for trou­ble. You don’t bring peo­ple on you that you don’t ac­tu­ally want, in a way.

‘It hap­pens rarely now, but they still come to the door, pre­sent­ing me with wads of cash, as if I was a hun­gry child look­ing at their sweets. I’ve told them to go the City Gallery [in Lim­er­ick]. They only wanted to sell it on to some­one else.

Mr Shin­nors, whose work has sold at top auc­tion houses Sotheby’s and Christie’s, said some Trav­ellers pre­sented him with forged paint­ings, seek­ing his sig­na­ture to ‘au­then­ti­cate’ the pieces and in­crease their value, which he re­fused to do.

‘They were clearly not my work, and I told them this, and they knew it. But one Trav­eller even of­fered me €500 to sign it re­gard­less,’ he said.

The artist claimed some years ago that Trav­ellers ‘don’t have a cul­ture, but a life­style’.

He said he was branded a ‘racist and a trou­ble­maker’ by some in­di­vid­u­als af­ter mak­ing those com­ments.

How­ever, he stands by these re­marks and said ac­cu­sa­tions of racism are lu­di­crous.

‘They are or­di­nary peo­ple who live within the State and should con­trib­ute to the State,’ he told the MoS.

He said he feels that recog­nis­ing Trav­ellers as an eth­nic mi­nor­ity – as an­nounced in 2017 by then taoiseach Enda Kenny is ‘a load of c**p’.

He said he did not vote for Michael D Hig­gins for a sec­ond term as he’s a ‘bloody so­cial­ist... one of these peo­ple al­ways go­ing on about in­te­gra­tion and cul­tural ac­tiv­ity’.

The 68-year-old mem­ber of the Royal Hiber­nian Acad­emy will launch his first book, Adult Read­ing for Artists at Bed­time, in Lim­er­ick’s Hunt Mu­seum on Satur­day.

Martin Collins, di­rec­tor of Pavee Point, which rep­re­sents Trav­ellers, said that Mr Shin­nors should re­port any al­le­ga­tions of ha­rass­ment to An Garda Siochána.

‘Even if they are true, it is still a re­ally poor ex­cuse to vote for Pe­ter Casey, who comes out with an­tiTrav­eller rhetoric and who es­pouses divi­sion,’ he said. anne.sheri­dan@mailon­sun­day.ie

hA­RAssEd: Ab­stract artist John Shin­nors in his stu­dio

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