Joe Sheehan studied contemporary jewellery at Unitec in the mid-1990s and since then has worked in carving studios throughout New Zealand. His interest in the historical, geological and cultural context of stone has led to extensive on-site field work and exploration both in Aotearoa and overseas.
The space between adornment and artefact has given him a wide field within which to operate. Sheehan’s artworks often twist the familiar and include everyday objects such as a working lightbulb, a cassette tape and batteries meticulously carved from Pounamu (New Zealand jade).
In November 2006 Sheehan was one of the inaugural recipients of the Arts Foundation of New Zealand’s prestigious New Generation Award. In 2008 he presented work at the 28th Sao Paulo Bienal in Brazil. In 2011 he travelled to Antarctica as an Arts Fellow under the Artists in Antarctica Programme. In 2012 the survey exhibition ‘Joe Sheehan: Other Stories’ was presented at Pataka Art + Museum in Porirua, Wellington.
Sheehan’s work is held in collections including Te Papa Tongarewa Wellington, the Chartwell Collection Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tamaki, Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetu, Govett-Brewster Art Gallery, New Plymouth and the Victoria & Albert Museum, London UK.