Redkettle Art and Collectibles
Joe Sleep (1914-1978) - Biography

To own a Joe Sleep original is to own a "rare gem" in the Canadian Folk Art World.

Joe Sleep worked as a fisherman in his youth and then as a carnie for the Bill Lynch Shows , a touring Maritime attraction for 21 years. He claims to have hated school as a child "Went as far as grade 1 I had to go back the second year to get me books".

He began doing "picture making art" as a trade after a period of hospital convalescence in 1973. The nurses gave him colouring books, that became his introduction to art. At first he would trace the images in colouring books but quickly discovered he had a passion and a talent for drawing his own subjects in whatever proportion he wanted. His drawings took on a personality of their own. "My cat is my best seller."

He later opened a small studio in Halifax. What made his art so unique and wonderful was his total disregard for rigid lines and perspective. His drawings reveal the extraordinary vision inside of ordinary people. In explaining his "town clock" series: "One day I was up to Citadel Hill and I started drawing the old town clock. It was twenty-five after twelve so I kept that time on all the clocks I drew ever since."

The Art Gallery of Nova Scotia put a retrospective of Joe Sleep's Artistic Career in the Spring of 1981. His work is included in the collections of the National Gallery of Canada and the Canadian Museum of Civilization.

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