John Kelly was born in 1965. His father, from Cork, and mother from Bristol, the family immigrated to Australia the same year. Due to his birth, heritage and circumstance John now holds three passports and therefore is an Australian, an Irishman and an Englishman. John has lived in all three countries and for the past decade has resided in west Cork, Ireland.
In 1985 John obtained a Bachelor of Arts (Visual Arts Painting) from RMIT University, Melbourne, where he also completed his Masters of Arts in 1995. 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
As a painter, sculptor and printmaker John engages across mediums and also writes, having written for Art Monthly (Australia & UK) and Circa magazine (Ireland).
In Australia John is best known for his paintings and large sculptures of William Dobell’s cows, papier-mâché creations used during WWII in an attempt to confuse enemy aircraft as to the location of the Australian airbases. His 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).