Joseph Sleep was born at sea "somewhere between England and Canada", and the year is also not quite clear - could be 1914, 1916 or 1918 but the 1914 date of birth is generally accepted.
After a varied series of jobs including jack-of-all-trades for the traveling circus Bill Lynch Shows, Joe Sleep was interned in 1973 at the Halifax Infirmary. It was at the Infirmary that the nursing staff provided Joe with paper and supplies to draw posters for them, and this is what started him on his career as a painter. Without pension or other sources of income, painting was Joe Sleep's sole means of financial support in his later years.
Joe Sleep used many
materials in his work - latex, cardboard, canvas and masonite, felt markers, pen, pencil, ballpoint and even spray paint. Some paintings are "suitcase" size (that could be easily packed by tourists) and others are monumental compositions painted on panels eight feet in length. Joseph Sleep died in 1978.
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