George Shaw's compositions depict the suburban and forested area around Tile Hill, a post-war housing estate in Coventry where the artist grew up. Always void of people, Shaw's empty landscapes of bus shelters, garages, pubs and wooded hinterlands are bleak and nostalgic memories of his sense of lost youth. 'I started to make these paintings out of a kind of mourning for the person I used to be: an enthusiastic, passionate teenager who read art books and novels and poems and biographies and watched films and TV and listened to music and dreamed. They are paintings of places that were familiar to me in my childhood and adolescence, places in which I found myself alone and thoughtful' (Artist statement 2002).
The present work is one of the first large charcoal drawings Shaw made of the woods about Tile Hill. It demonstrates Shaw's accomplished drawing style and a realist execution that is echoed in his paintings. These charcoals also draw upon the idea of time passing by through the imagery of windswept branches, fallen trees and stumps dotted here and there – the result of nature or an unseen human presence. In each, a sense of desolation and dislocation is evoked – key themes within Shaw's exploration of one's past and identity.
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