Above, Leytonstone 1995, 1999, 2012, by Laura Oldfield Ford
There is a Place…. where you can find works by six artists in a thematic show which brings together some great scenes of urban emptiness.
The New Art Gallery at Walsall is showing There is a Place…until April 14, and it’s a place well worth visiting.
Coventry-born George Shaw contributes both Humbrol-painted paintings, and more unusually, etchings, of Tile Hill. There’s a huge pile of rubble behind a fence, showing the end of a pub where his mother apparently once worked, and another empty space, and in The End of Time, a path leading to where a pub building once stood.
The 12 short walks are etchings of scenes from around the area, showing scenes that are becoming familiar if you’ve seen more of his paintings and watercolours – garages, bleak paths, but green tree-filled areas too, and poignantly fence posts with no fence in between. They’re small, detailed and show his versatility.
In the last year, George Shaw must have been written about in many places. But now he’s really made it – one of his works has been discussed in Pint Sides, the newsletter of the Coventry and North Warwickshire branch of the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA).
It’s not your normal art criticism though. In Old Fred’s Corner, the writer says he spotted in a national paper in an article about the Turner Prize, a picture of a “derelict site that looked strangely familiar”. Of course this turned out to be a painting by George Shaw of a pub where he used to go.
Or, as ‘Fred’, told us, it was the Hawthorn Tree on Broad Lane, Lost Pubs No 36 in the Spring 2011 edition of Pint Sides.
Fred then goes on to reminisce about the history of the Hawthorn, the surrounding area and how it came to be lost, concluding “I must look out for more of Mr Shaw’s paintings of modern urban desolation”.
Luckily, the editor at this point tells us we can see the exhibition of George’s work at the Herbert until March 11, and I hope Fred has availed himself of this opportunity.
On my occasional trips away from Coventry, I like to see whatever exhibitions are on in the place I go to visit. Belfast is usually pretty reliable for a good selection but sadly not on my recent trip.
Turning up at the Ormeau Baths Gallery on Friday 13th was obviously a bad omen. The door was shut, boards were piled behind it and there was post inside the door. I had thought it was odd the website was out of date, but should have looked further – the gallery closed in October, blaming a reduction in income from sponsorship and corporate events, and a rise in costs.
It had shown exhibitions by Yoko Ono and Gilbert and George before, and a lot more obscure artists, and was a bit like the Ikon in Birmingham – an old brick building and big white spaces inside. It’s a sad lost to the Belfast art world.
So January comes around and I’m looking forward to looking at paintings with a glass of wine in my hand, writing the odd note. Then what happens – on a weekend with three art show openings two of them coincide with long-arranged plans which mean I can’t get to either of them. Sigh.
But, YOU can still go along to all three and see for yourselves what’s on.
If you’re in London in the next couple of weeks, don’t miss Building the Revolution: Soviet Art and Architecture 1915-1935, at the Royal Academy.
It might sound more like an essay title, but it’s a fascinating exhibition in the top-floor Sackler Rooms at the gallery.
Leonardo da Vinci is the star draw at the National Gallery at the moment, but there’s a chance to find out more about him in the Midlands – and raise money at the same time.
On January 25, the Senior Curator of Prints and Drawings at The Royal Collection, Windsor Castle, Martin Clayton, will deliver an Art Fund lecture linked to the exhibition Ten Drawings by Leonardo da Vinci: A Diamond Jubilee Celebration, which is on from this month at Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery.