West Kerry man joins the elite of the British art world
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.