John Sheeran is an English art curator, exhibition organiser, lecturer, editor, and publisher. While he is an accomplished and well-respected professional in his field with over three decades of experience, he is most known as the father of singer-songwriter and musician Ed Sheeran. A London native, John grew up in an Irish Catholic household. After completing his education, he started organising exhibitions, acquiring and managing art collections, and delivering lectures on the subject. He has garnered significant recognition for his ability to fascinate, entertain, and inform his audience about masterpieces of Western art. For years, his lectures have filled auditoriums, and he has organised exhibitions for both struggling and accomplished artists. As an editor and publisher, he has put out books like ‘Marie Walker Last’ and ‘Introducing Sam Rabin’. John contributed several photos to photographer and long-time family friend Christie Goodwin’s 2018 book, ‘Ed Sheeran: Memories We Made’. He was a curator at Dulwich Picture Gallery. In 2017, he decided to retire. However, he still delivers charity lectures from time to time.
In the 1980s, John Sheeran served as a curator at a museum. He and his wife, Imogen, established Sheeran Lock Ltd., an independent creative arts and communications consultancy, in 1990. For the next two decades, they organised art exhibitions, including the official 50th Birthday Exhibition of The Prince of Wales at Hampton Court Palace and the United Nations Millennium Exhibition in New York. Furthermore, they set up innovative art education initiatives for young people in disadvantaged communities in UK.
In 2008, they launched their commercial online art gallery. According to the company’s mission statement, they utilized art “to communicate key messages about many contemporary issues, and to promote mutual understanding among peoples and cultures”. Their projects were for both informed and unaware audiences, often created on commission basis or sponsorship by people from the corporate sector. Throughout the years, their clients had been royalty, international organisations, governments, city and education authorities, development agencies and major corporations. Their online gallery, empowered by their curatorial expertise and strong educational bias, made commercial art. The gallery was equally suited for art collectors and art enthusiasts as well as for people who had little knowledge on the subject and wanted to purchase from a reliable and trustworthy source. The website also served as an educational resource for people who wanted to know more about art. Sheeran Lock Ltd. shut down in 2010.
Through their company, John and Imogen published several books, including ‘Picture of Health: Paintings and Drawings of Breast Cancer Care by Susan MacFarlane’, ‘Margaret Firth’, ‘Introducing Sam Rabin’, and ‘Marie Walker Last’. John worked as a curator at Dulwich Picture Gallery. In 1986, he published ‘James Fitton, R.A. 1899-1982: Dulwich Picture Gallery 12 November 1986-4 January 1987’.
Because of his vast experience in the world of art, he is widely considered to be an authoritative figure on the subject. In 2008, he began delivering art appreciation lectures. His first talk was in Framlingham. As there were 80 different lectures in that program, he spent the next two-and-a-half years doing it. An expert in Western art, he has given lectures on famous paintings from periods of art such as the Italian Renaissance, the Baroque, Romanticism, and French Impressionism. In each of his talks, he uses ten to fifteen pictures to help people understand why artists like Leonardo Da Vinci, Van Gogh and Pablo Picasso are so highly revered.
In August 2019, John organised an exhibition in Ipswich, Suffolk that documented Ed’s ascent to stardom. It was John who introduced his son to music by purchasing him CDs of popular musicians and accompanying him to concerts.
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Family & Personal Life
John was born in 1957 in an Irish family. His father, Williams Sheeran, is a Protestant who is originally from Belfast, Northern Ireland. His mother, Nancy/Anne Mulligan is a Catholic and native of the Republic of Ireland. During the Second World War, they met and gradually a relationship developed between the two. Going against their parents’ wishes, the couple married and went on to have eight children, five sons, including John, and three daughters. Ed Sheeran’s song ‘Nancy Mulligan’, from his third studio album ‘÷’, is based on the lives and love story of his paternal grandparents.
John is married to Imogen Lock, a cultural publicist turned jewellery designer. A graduate from the University of St Andrews, from where she obtained an MA degree in art history, she worked as a press officer at National Portrait Gallery and gallery services officer at Manchester City Art Galleries before setting up the Sheeran Lock Ltd. in 1990 with John. They have two sons together, Matthew (born March 17, 1989) and Ed (February 17, 1991).
After their marriage, John and Imogen lived in Halifax, West Yorkshire, where Ed was born, before moving the family to Framlingham, Suffolk. Ed, who has been singing since he was four years old, has now become one of the most prolific singer-songwriters and musicians of today. He has sold more than 150 million albums worldwide and has won four Grammy Awards. Matthew is also a composer and musician and has created music for several films and TV shows, including the 2016 British romance drama ‘With Love From… Suffolk’.