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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: 218.5 x 202cm
  • Edition:
  • Material description: Oil on un-stretched canvas
  • Credit line: © the artist
  • Theme:
  • Medium: Painting
  • Accession number: ACC23/2017

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

With more than 8,000 works by over 2,000 artists, it can be seen in exhibitions and public displays across the country and beyond. This website offers unprecedented access to the Collection, and information about each work can be found on this site.