Music in the Frying-Pan Pub Brick Lane in the Sixties


John Sheehy
John Sheehy began painting at the age of 51, and over the past 18 years has produced a vast body of work that includes painting, printmaking and sculpture, in addition to playwriting, poetry and music. His paintings range between portraits, landscapes and the purely abstract, and often foreground personal or biographical recollections, evoking the artist’s travels and his native Ireland. The pace at which Sheehy produces work is extraordinary, and is often limited by the availability of materials to hand including canvas, paper, roof tiles, window blinds and paving slabs. Even his largest paintings, some 10 by 20 feet in size, take less than an hour to complete. Sheehy has produced a staggering collection of works which he considers as a single, total narrative. With reference to both rural Ireland and London street scenes, Sheehy’s paintings detail seemingly familiar or everyday moments. He frequently returns to vernacular subjects which might initially appear folksy: sailing ships, terraced houses, shoe-shiners and chimney sweeps; however, when repeated across numerous works they gain a talismanic, otherworldly character. Rather than nostalgic, these works are a record of lived experience.
  • Artwork Details: 50.5 x 72 x 23cm
  • Edition:
  • Material description: Acrylic on suitcase
  • Credit line: © the artist
  • Theme: Undefined
  • Medium: Sculpture
  • Accession number: ACC26/2017

Explore this Artwork

The first in a series of artist profiles from Sunderland Museum's first Arts Council Collection exhibition as part of the National Partners Programme, Received Wisdom at Sunderland Museum & Winter Gardens. Public Engagement and Learning Officer, Posy Jowett, takes a look at the artwork Music in the Frying-Pan Pub Brick Lane in the Sixties by John Sheehy.

About the Artist

John Sheehy was born in South-West Ireland in 1949. He moved to London in the late 1950s, where he worked as a builder and roofer, but endured spells of unemployment and homelessness. He first began painting at the age of 51, encouraged by The Big Issue arts group. Since then he has produced a vast body of work, which includes painting, printmaking and sculpture, in addition to playwriting, poetry and music. He considers this collection a single, total narrative.

 

Sheehy’s paintings range between portraits, landscapes and the purely abstract. He creates with a sense of urgency, immersed in the act of making and its therapeutic benefits. ‘Art helps me – it’s crucial, necessary; gets me through the day, gets me through the night,’ he says. ‘It’s a friend to me – a big time friend.’

 

Read more about the artist here

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The Arts Council Collection is the UK's most widely seen collection of modern and contemporary art.

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