"I feel privileged to work with greenstone. It is so deeply embedded in the fabric of our history that I think almost everyone in Aotearoa has some feeling for it. It's this significance which offers a unique opportunity to play and reflect on our culture as a whole."

Joe Sheehan follows in his father's footsteps as a jade-worker, taking a contemporary look at the relevance and position of greenstone carving in today's world. Joe concentrated mostly on jewellery and metal skills while at University, studying contemporary jewellery at Unitec in the mid-90s. He has since worked in carving studios nationally and has visited nephrite-jade deposits around the world.

His work has looked at the commercialisation of the jade industry and the limitations it places on jade and its potential as a medium for relevant art practise, asking why much modern greenstone carving looks like museum-held works, rather than objects of this time. Seeking fresh responses and processes, Joe plays with social and cultural contexts with his work, presenting pounamu and jade objects that speak first about their object status and second about their materials. There is a conceptual background evident in his work, where he utilises international materials and forms to address the way jade's cultural associations are marketed.

Joe had his first solo show Stonedog at Avid Gallery, Wellington in 2004.  Other solo shows include Limelight at Objectspace, Auckland, Clean Green at FHE gallery in Auckland and Slideshow Tim Melville Gallery, Auckland.

Along with more traditional forms of jewellery such as a necklace made from several hundred precision-cut discs of Russian Nephrite, other jade and pounamu works have included meticulously rendered ballpoint pens, a working lightbulb, a cassette tape that plays a recording of a river, sunglasses, AA batteries and a suite of three slide carousels and projectors. The skillful handling of hard stone combined with some hard thinking makes these everyday objects thoughtful commentaries on the way we see things.

Joe was one of five inaugural recipients of an Arts Foundation New Generation Award.  He has also been the recipient of an Artists to Antarctica Fellowship.

1976
    Born Nelson, New Zealand
1996 
   Diploma in Design (Jewellery) Unitec
1998 
  Royal Jewellery Studio Group Show, Auckland
2002 
   Greenstone (group show), Avid Gallery, Wellington
2003
    Premier Award - Mana Pounamu (Greymouth)
2004
   Stonedog first solo show, Avid Gallery, Wellington
2005
   Limelight at Objectspace, Auckland
2006 
   Clean Green at FHE Gallery, Auckland;Inaugural Arts Foundation New Generation Award recipient
2007
    Te Tataitanga/Bind Together San Antonio, Texas, USA;Control and Coming Soon (group shows) Tim Melville Gallery, Auckland;New Nature (group show) Govett-Brewster Art Gallery, New Plymouth
2008
    I Draw Solace and Words&Pictures (group shows) Tim Melville Gallery, Auckland;Goodman Suter Contemporary Art Project: The Maui Dynasty (group show), Nelson;Sao Paulo Bienal, Sau Paulo, Brazil
2009
    Slide Show Tim Melville Gallery, Auckland;Auckland Art Fair
2010  
Antarctica New Zealand Arts Fellowship;Melbourne Art Fair
2011
Solo shows: 'Record' at Tim Melville Gallery Group shows: 'Deeper Water' & Auckland Art Fair at Tim Melville Gallery 'Game On' at Hastings City Art Gallery 'Shed' for Nelson Sculpture Trust 'Local Knowledge' The Dowse Art museum
2012
Solo Show: 'Other Stories: Stone Works 2002-2012' at PATAKA Museum Group show: 'Five Years' at Tim Melville Gallery
2013
Solo Shows: 'Other Stories: Stone Works 2002-2012' at Sarjeant Gallery & Rotorua Museum 'The Quick and the Dead' at Tim Melville Gallery Group Show: Auckland Art Fair at Tim Melville Gallery