Home > Art, Sculpture & Photography, People, Things I Like... > George Shaw (He really should have won…)

George Shaw (He really should have won…)

December 6, 2011 Leave a comment Go to comments

We didn’t watch the Turner Prize on TV last night, I couldn’t bring myself to listen to the swooning over and post rationalising to some supposed state of importance of the usual piles of risibly thin and weak kaka presented as this years Emperors New Clothes…

With one notable exception that is…

I’ve been meaning to write about George Shaw, a Midlands lad like myself, for a while now.

Shaw is a painter, a painter of seemingly everyday and mundane landscapes that, from what I can gather, are never very far way from his place of birth, Tile Hill in Coventry. I use the word seemingly, as upon closer inspection, Shaw’s pictures are neither mundane, nor everyday, offering as they do a rich and sometimes unsettling take on suburban life, raising issues amongst other things of decay, exclusion and alienation.

Working mainly from photographs in his studio, Shaw’s chosen media is Humbrol paint, those small tins of enamel that 40 somethings like me are instantly familiar with from a hundred Airfix kits put together on rainy day’s in the 70’s. I’m not totally sure why he chose Humbrol, but there’s no doubt that they give the finished surface of the works a hard, almost lacquered quality unusual for landscape paintings. They also allow him to use fine brushes which give the works an amazing level of detail. In fact some of his works are so “lifelike” that it’s not easy to be 100% sure the reproductions on line are not actually photos.

A recurring theme within Shaw’s paintings, is the inclusion, usually across the centre of the picture, of a physical barrier: railings, Heras fencing, hedges, walls, and in many of the works, this barrier is so total, it almost completely masks whatever is beyond, allowing us to either imagine it ourselves, or accept it simply as a record of what the artist saw. Either way, there is a strange feeling that more’s going on than at first glance; someone’s just left the frame perhaps, or is hiding, waiting until the watcher has gone to carry on some unspecified business… In fact it’s interesting that Shaw never seems to include people within his work, an act which certainly heightens the sense of dislocation of these very human habitats…

When we go home to see my M&D over Xmas, we’ll definitely be making the short trip over to Coventry, as the list of things to see is growing: Bill Mitchells’ mural at the Three Tuns Pub, Spence’s Cathedral (again, I can never get enough), the Donald Gibson 1940’s town centre redevelopment and the Belgrade Theatre (to take photos for  future posts) and now a trip to the recently refurbished Herbert Art Gallery to see the current exhibition of George Shaw’s wonderful paintings…

  1. Arch
    December 8, 2011 at 08:37

    No, don’t like that.

    • December 8, 2011 at 09:49

      Howdy Arch.. how can you not like them? They’re amazing, full of beautifully observed detail.
      I honestly believe they will stand the test of time.
      Think of them in terms of a Canaletto or Turner landscape… Joex

  2. March 24, 2012 at 16:22

    An amazing article, thanks for the writing.

  3. Lasse Kosonen
    March 6, 2013 at 11:15

    Fine article and awesome deeply fasinating paintings.

  4. April 8, 2013 at 08:40

    You might be interested in this: http://www.scenesfromthepassion.co.uk

  5. April 8, 2013 at 10:11

    Hi Duncan
    I am very interested indeed. As you may be able to tell I’m a bit of a fan of Mr. Shaw… There’s a lot to take in at work, but after a quick glance through it looks like excellent stuff. I will have a proper look later at home. Many thanks for visiting and taking the time to comment.
    (PS I had to add an “e” after th of the, to make your link work, just in case you’ve used it elsewhere..)

  6. April 8, 2013 at 10:19

    Thanks Joe. Usually when I type the link I put a space between ‘the’ and ‘passion’! I guess I should have set up a site with a shorter name, but tilehill.co.uk was already gone and scenes etc was the best I could come up with.

  7. Charlotte Chamier
    June 2, 2016 at 10:53

    How wonderful. Small snapshots of everyday life that most of us might drive past or walk past every day and not give a second thought to, and the artist has not only seen and valued them, but captured and analysed and rendered them in hyperreal glory – I think it’s very accomplished and very clever and slightly unsettling.

  8. Anna White
    December 14, 2016 at 06:38

    Have just discovered George Shaw’s work and have instantly fallen in love with it. Paintings are reminiscent of Hopper and Ben McLaughlin in terms of emptiness and isolation. Brilliant to see an artist capture such everyday ordinariness with such accomplished skill.

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