So George Shaw didn’t win the Turner Prize. The disappointment in the packed big hall at the Herbert art gallery was palpable, as many people left within a few minutes, spurning the after party.
But although it’s disappointing and he’ll miss out on some of the instant attention (and prize money) the win brings, it’s hardly like to harm his career or artistic reputation. George Shaw is already well respected in the art world, by the critics, by collectors and by a growing number of art fans and that will not change.
Google Turner Prize and flick through a list of the past winners and other nominated artists – the ones who’ve gone on to greatest artistic success/fame/richness aren’t always the winners.
I’ve said it before, but it’s often thought Tracey Emin won for her dishevelled bed, but she didn’t.
And George is like her in several ways: both feature their unfashionable home towns in their art and are inspired by it, both do autobiographical art (George said his art is all about him several times in the excellent film about him shown tonight at The Herbert), both like a drink – as anyone who witnessed his speech at the exhibition opening can confirm – and both are an interviewer’s dream. Whether George will one day shake hands with the Queen and support the Conservatives is an entirely different matter….
Anyway, I’m sure this week holds different excitements for George; an exhibition he has curated at Modern Art Oxford opens on Saturday – and again has a slight Coventry link. Graham Sutherland – An Unfinished World, features a lesser-known collection of works on paper by Sutherland, a world away from his Coventry Cathedral tapestry. They focus on early Welsh landscapes from the 1930s, those created during his time as an official World War II artist, and after his return to Pembrokeshire in the 1970s.
The gallery’s website quotes George describing them as “a lament to the passing and changing landscape, a monument to the earth itself”, and “the exhibition shows us Sutherland as an artist as much rooted in the past as in the world before him – a world forever unfinished”, words that could describe much of his own work looking back to his own past.