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George Shaw

What I did this Summer

30 July — 14 September 2003

George Shaw’s paintings are rich evocations of place and memory. Inspired by the council housing estate in Tile Hill, Coventry where he grew up, the paintings, both romantic and oppressive, depict empty playing fields, pubs, bus stops, lock-up garages, run-down housing estates and for the first time, war memorials and graveyards.

This was the first major exhibition to examine Shaw’s acclaimed style of painting that involves a meticulous rendering in Humbrol enamel paint, a medium reminiscent of boyhood Airfix kits that epitomises the obsessive nature of Shaw’s life-long project. The images are empty of any clues as to the particular time and place they were painted such as cars, people or signs, transforming the specific to the generic. Their unspectacular subject matter, mundane and yet compelling echoes Philip Larkin’s poignant statement that nothing, like something happens everywhere.

Supported by Arts Council England’s National Touring Programme.