facade of the house (2000), picture by Peter Haining
Joe McKinley (1931-2003) from Carnlough, Northern Ireland, bought the house in above picture in 1964. He lived there with his wife and the couple would have three children.
He earned his money by running a company which delivered milk from a milk facory to households in the area.
Friends and people around would not see him as an easy going personality, he had his pecularities, maybe because of a personality disorder. He was creatively active, making paintings in a naive style and decorating the garden with arches and mosaics from pebbles and shells.
Mrs McKinley liked a tidy household and was not very happy with her husbands probably somewhat messy creative pastimes.
The year 1990 was a turning point: mrs McKinley left the house, the milk delivering company had to be sold to a former partner who had started his own business. Eventually McKinley was on himself, no company to run, no family around.
picture by Peter Haining
In the following years McKinley began abundantly decorating his house. Inside he had his paintings and he covered the walls with lots of collages. At the outside he filled the garden with a variety of junk articles. He composed texts in a very personal style on posters he displayed around the site
Peter Haining, an artist who made a trip by bike to inventarise outsider art in Ireland, was one of them. He first met McKinley in 2000. In an essay that is available on the internet, he not only related McKinley's life history, but he also described the rather messy and filthy interior of the house.
McKinley liked to call himself Moscow Joe McKinley. He made some three trips to Moscow indeed and used to wear a baseball cap with all kinds of Russian badges. His walking stick also was covered with badges.
This walking stick is one of the few items that has been left after McKinley died in may 2003.
The site has been demolished
After McKinley's death the family chose to remove all decorations and to demolish the building. It was replaced by a decent two storey house.
"There's not much of Moscow Joe's stuff left in Carnlough. This sign is almost obscured by ivy and is quite close to where his house used to be" .
Picture and comment courtesy of Zoe Bowyer, march 2008, Flickr
So most of the creations have disappeared. A number of his paintings are in private collections, three of them on the walls of the Londonderry Arms Hotel in Carnlough, amidst works of other local artists, and one in a medical practice in Glenarm.
Moscow Joe's outsider art environment
Carnlough, Northern Ireland