Monday, November 3, 2014

The Art of George Shaw

The best book I read in the last 2 years was Edgelands by Michael Symmons Roberts and Paul Farley. I've blogged about this book twice and none of you went out and bought it, but that's ok, it's your loss. It's a wonderful book and rereading it is a delight. Getting other people to read it is also a delight because they find stuff that you missed and tell you about it. After much nagging I finally got the missus to read Edgelands and of course she loved it. Everyone does. One bit that really struck her was the art of George Shaw, who was born in Coventry's Tile Hill estate in 1966 (an area of Cov I know very well because I went to the University of Warwick just down the road). Shaw started painting the area around the housing estate he lived in in a very flat, naturalistic style. His favoured medium as Wikipedia explains "is Humbrol enamel paints, which lend his work a unique appearance as they are more commonly used to paint Airfix model aircraft." Shaw was shortlisted for the Turner Prize in 2011 for his collection, The Sly and Unseen Day.
Shaw paints the edgelands of Britain, those forgotten bits of the landscape lurking behind car parks, or alleys between housing estates or ruined garages or abandoned blocks of flats. This is the real Britain, not Heritage Britain so beloved by the TV and film worlds and to me its so much more interesting than all that Downton Abbey/Notting Hill bullshit. Shaw's paintings resonate so wonderfully for me not just because this is pretty much the world I grew up in, but I also find a peculiar Edward Hopper like beauty in their austerity. Like I say these paintings were done using Humbrol model aircraft paints on wooden boards. I love this stuff.