West Kerry man joins the elite of the British art world

The Kerryman (South Kerry Edition) - - COMMUNITY NEWS -

A WEST Kerry man who em­i­grated to Lon­don as a teenager and later fell on hard times has be­come one of Bri­tain’s most cel­e­brated artists.

The British Arts Coun­cil Col­lec­tion has just bought three works by John Sheehy (Sean Mac a’ tSithigh) from Baile Eaglaise for in­clu­sion in the UK’s largest na­tional loan col­lec­tion of modern and con­tem­po­rary art. He gave the pres­ti­gious group another two paint­ings for good luck – and well he might, be­cause he had them to spare.

The huge pro­file that comes with in­clu­sion the British Arts Coun­cil Col­lec­tion marks the high point, so far, in the artis­tic ca­reer of John who left Baile Eaglaise in the early 1970s, aged just 16, to work on the build­ings.

Like many other Ir­ish em­i­grants of his gen­er­a­tion, he fell on hard times in Lon­don and even be­came home­less for a while. His first con­tact with art came through a group help­ing the home­less and, aged 51, he was seized with a pas­sion for paint­ing.

He painted scenes of home and of the Ir­ish in Lon­don at a fu­ri­ous pace on any­thing he could lay a hand on, from can­vas to paving slabs. By the time a Lon­don gallery owner ‘dis­cov­ered’ him in 2015 he was liv­ing in a small flat that was packed from floor to ceil­ing with thou­sands of his paint­ings.

Since then he has had ex­hi­bi­tions in the Atom Gallery and in Stu­dio Voltaire and now, 18 years into his life as an artist, the Baile Eaglaise man who can pro­duce a work of art in un­der an hour has joined the elite of the British art scene.

John Sheehy from Baile Eaglaise who has earned a place high in the ranks of the British art world.

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