gregory seán sheehan
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accumulations and transformations


The particular turf at my disposal proved to be a fiery, expressive medium which acted upon me as a catalyst, setting multitudes of ideas and impressions into motion.

These multitudes of ideas and impressions prompted further inquiry into this very ordinary, intricate material.

My inquiries lead to the obvious conclusion — turf was not just turf! Turf, or peat is far more than just fuel for the fire or fertiliser for the garden. This archaic matter has a long ancestry, worlds apart from it’s various human uses. Being the remains of animals, birds, insects, plants, mosses, and trees, turf manifests thousands upon thousands of years of accumulation, decay, transformation, growth and regeneration.

The turf I work with has been gathered from blanket-bogland in Ireland. Blanket bogs are not only large areas of self regulating biotopes providing habitats for numerous animals, birds, insects and plants but also landscape in it’s most resilient and durable instance. Found mainly in northern hemispheres, undisturbed blanket bogs have been self-regulating entities for periods of up to twelve thousand years.


formations and substructures

Since neither turf or peat have ever been traditional painting mediums there were no handbooks or previous knowledge to be referenced. So, there was no alternative than to engage in years of investigation, and experiment — which turned out to be a demanding process of trial and error.

“ Gazing up from dark turfbanks, out across the mountain slopes, along a barren skyline; the absence of trees and forests amplified the growing silence. But then, the trees and forests were all still there — underfoot; each and every one of them.”

The general structural composition of my work tends to be reduced, alternating between horizontal and vertical sections of ascending and descending movements. The interaction between these movements are often kinetically interwoven and set in motion with various highly diluted solutions.

Referencing the layered accumulation of my source material, the majority of these works are structured horizontally. The working procedure is essentially rhythmical. Turf, which has previously been applied to the surface, generally serves as a substructure upon which an animated interaction between colour, form and content evolves.

In accordance with the laws of gravity, complex and tightly woven rivulets of pigment cascade and intermingle over this substructure; elucidating the underlying form. The rhythmical vitality of the flow can be seen to evoke aspects of growth, depth, origin, time and transformation.

The work might often bring the viewer to unfamiliar places, where concepts like “abstraction” tend to become ambivalent.
See Main Gallery



Born 1956 in Dublin, Ireland, Gregory Seán Sheehan trained as a graphic-artist and subsequently spent thirty years in the communications and design industry in the positions of graphic-designer, illustrator and art-director.

In 1981 Gregory Sheehan moved to Lower Saxony, Germany – where he works as a freelance Graphic & Visual Artist. In 2001 he decided to concentrate on the artistic side of his creative activities, which have always been an area of great personal interest. Gregory Sheehan’s work has been exhibited in Germany and Ireland and is represented in both private and corporate collections.
This short video Terra incognita was put together as a visual accompaniment to the exhibition of the same name – on show at the Kuenstlerhaus Goettingen, Germany, 2016.

Music and audio: © David Begley, Co. Wexford, Ireland.

The video illustrates the notion of uncharted territory in both the external landscape ‘out there’ and the internal workspace of the studio. These two contexts are the hinges of ‘Terra incognita’ The internal workspace of the studio is essentially hermetic but is a space directly related to the world outside.