John Kelly was born in Bristol in 1965. His father, from Cork, and mother, from Bristol, and the family immigrated to Australia the
same year. John and his six siblings grew up in Sunshine. Due to his birth, heritage and circumstance John now holds three passports and is therefore an Englishman, an Australian and an Irishman. Kelly has lived in all three countries and presently resides in Ireland.
‘Win a wish’ Competition
In 1982 Kelly was the fortunate recipient of a ‘Win a wish’ competition after his mother entered it on the side of a milk carton, her wish was to send her son to Art school.
In 1985 Kelly obtained his Bachelor of Arts (Visual Arts Painting) from RMIT University, Melbourne, where he also completed his Masters of Arts in 1995.
Samstag International Visual Arts Scholarship
As a winner of the 1995 Anne & Gordon Samstag International Visual Arts Scholarship, he travelled to London to study as an Affiliate Student at the Slade School of Art from 1996 to 1997.
In the UK he exhibited regularly with the prestigious Piccadilly Galleries in Cork Street, London and then Agnews Gallery, and has continued to do so with Merville Galleries.
John Kelly's Art
As a painter, sculptor and printmaker Kelly engages across mediums and also writes, having written for Art Monthly (Australia & UK) and Circa magazine (Ireland).
In Australia he is best known for his paintings and large sculptures that reference William Dobell’s papier-mâché cows created in WWII.
Kelly’s sculptures of these cows have been exhibited on the Champs Elysées, Paris, in Les Champs de la Sculpture, 1999, Monte Carlo, in La Parade des Animaux, 2002, the MAMAC in France, The Hague, 2007, Glastonbury (2006 and 2007), Cork city 2011, and Melbourne Docklands (2001 to the present).
More recently, Kelly’s works tackling contemporary issues – such as branding in contemporary culture, and museum politics have been exhibited in the Guangzhou Triennale, 2008, and the Göteborg Biennale, 2009.
His most recent exhibitions have been in Sydney (Look and Put) and London (British Art Fair).