Joe Sheehan (1976) began carving stone in his father’s commercial greenstone studio before completing a jewellery degree at Auckland’s UNITEC. Since then, alongside visits to nephrite jade deposits around the world, his practice has developed to encompass stone sculpture in materials including basalt, greywacke and granite.
“I am constantly looking at the things around me …the new and the old and the things I have looked at a million times before and think I know … to see if there Is something else, to see if they have changed. Or maybe to try to see them as I did the first time, again.
I find myself always returning to objects that are ubiquitous and overlooked, that have a commonality bordering on invisibility; hyper-normal.
I’m curious about the way we live our lives in relation to the use of tools and objects. And I like to take things that are familiar and re-make them in stone which renders both the material and the form strange. The strangeness allows me to see things in a new way.
To create a dislocation is my goal. Subtle is good. Quiet is good. I don’t often make things up. I find things. I try to work with what’s there. Sometimes it’s a kind of collaboration with the material, sometimes it’s a dance and often it’s an argument. It is never easy and rarely is it simply a case of imposing an idea onto a substrate.”
Joe Sheehan was one of the inaugural recipients of a NZ Arts Foundation New Generation Award and his public commissions include the 2015 Wellington Cenotaph Memorial project, Walk the Line. He represented New Zealand in the 2008 Sao Paulo Bienal and in 2010 received an Antarctica Fellowship. His work is held in collections including Te Papa Tongarewa, Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetu, the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, and the Chartwell Collection at Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tamaki.