herald

Thursday 29 September 2016

'I was homeless, sleeping in a tent', says artist Kevin

Sharkey said money was ‘falling from the trees’ during boom
Sharkey said money was ‘falling from the trees’ during boom

He counts Kate Moss and Courtney Love among his fans, but artist Kevin Sharkey has become homeless.

Sharkey (54) made a fortune selling his art, but fell on hard times with the collapse of the Celtic Tiger.

He has now revealed that he has been living in sheltered accommodation in Dublin city centre for the past two months.

"I'm proof that becoming homeless can happen to anyone. This is the reality of the crisis," he said.

"I've been an artist for 20 years and had amazing success, both professionally and personally.

"Money was falling from the trees in the boom. I made over €3m from art, but I put it right back into the economy, opening galleries. People just stopped buying paintings."

Sharkey admitted it took him a long time before he looked for help.

Pride

"For a man, it's seen as a failure - and in my pride I couldn't do it. Actually, it's the hardest thing in the world to ask for help," he said.

Sharkey said it was so bad that at one point he could not afford basic necessities and was avoiding his landlord's calls.

"I would pay one month's rent and immediately be panicking about where I would get the next month's," he said.

He even stayed in a caravan park in Roundwood, Co Wicklow, in a tent with an inflatable bed, paying €16 a night.

"I've decided to be honest. If I tell people I'm homeless, it forces people to think about it."

Sharkey was told about housing agency Crosscare, which provided him with accommodation on Amiens Street. He was given priority due to his homeless status, and will pay a percentage of his income in rent.

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