Monday, 30 May 2011
Keeping it real
George Shaw, 45, is a working class bloke from the Midlands. The Shane Meadows of the art world, whose work repeatedly references the kitchen sink memories of growing up on a post-war council estate. In Shaw's case that's Tile Hill, Coventry. He's up for the Turner Prize this year.
On our way to see his The Sly and Unseen Day exhibition at the South London Gallery, me and the Blog Widower were discussing our Desert Island Discs shortlist - still incomplete because it's a joint endeavour so we only have four tracks each and neither of us is very good at the definitive list-writing game. If you don't want to give away your age, don't talk about music. Most of our favourite tunes are from a particular era. The songs we listened to as teenagers - The Clash, Joy Division, David Bowie - are like a tell-tale time capsule. A better guide to age than wrinkles and hair loss. Anyhow, we were thinking about music and our memories of the late seventies/early eighties when we got to the gallery and suddenly there was the perfect backdrop to our soundtrack. The bland details of a This Is England council estate - the graffiti, the vandalized phone box, the dilapidated garages - a familiar landscape for both of us (me, up north. Mr TNMA in south London). The picture below could be called Straight out of Moss Side:
Shaw paints using Humbrol, the stuff used to decorate Airfix models and so there's a lot of steel grey and khaki, and it's permanently twilight in Tile Hill. His images look like photographs from a distance, but then up close they don't. In spite, or maybe because, of the subject matter the pictures are beautiful and atmospheric not mundane or melancholy.
And this is the talented Mr George Shaw. We're going to see him in conversation in June.
The Sly and Unseen Day is on at the South London Gallery till 3 July 2011.
Photo and images: The Guardian