Four years later. August, 2017. I've just come across an interview with George Shaw that was printed in London's
Standard in the spring of 2015 in which the painter claims to have come to the end of his Tile Hill work.

Surely not!

But, in any case, now would seem to be an appropriate time to catch up with what's been happening in George Shaw's world while I've been engaged on other projects. (If getting older and sadder can be called projects.)


At the end of 2013, Shaw's work was shown at the Douglas Hyde Gallery, Dublin. The show was called 'Neither My Arse Nor My Elbow', and the catalogue (it's cover seems to have the particular gloom of a Tile Hill winter evening woven into it) begins with a quote from Joyce's
Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. The snatch of dialogue between students contains the 'Neither my Arse Nor My Elbow' phrase of the show's title, as young Dubliners discuss the meaning of 'Limbo'. Shaw admits to not finishing this novel when he himself was a young man. But when trying to promote a personal vision in Dublin why not name-check one of the city's principal cultural assets?

The catalogue begins with a short essay by Shaw, dense with allusion, full of bleak insights into Limbo, that mythical period of time between life and death, which takes us deep into the murky woods around Tile Hill and ends with Shaw invoking 'my own damned and deliberate regression'.

George Shaw. The Damned I, 2013: Humbrol enamel on board. 198x147.5cm

Hmmm. This time the weave of the paper seems to have worked its way into the very air of Tile Hill. Another damned and deliberate regression? I'll have to see what I can do about that in future scans.

But let's start with an ambitious generalisation. As a relatively young adult of about 30, when first painting Tile Hill and the woods that were an integral part of it, Shaw was looking back to his childhood, the 1970s, with nostalgia. By his late 40s he seems to be looking at Tile Hill in the future, as from the grave - or from Limbo - by which time he will no longer be able to walk the streets of Tile Hill or anywhere else. Just to underline the second half of this tentative overview, three of the equally largest paintings in the Dublin show are called The Damned.

Take a good look. Neither George's arse nor his elbow? Neither torso nor outspread arms? Neither tortured heart nor outraged soul?

George Shaw. The Damned II, 2013: Humbrol enamel on board. 198x147.5cm

GS really is a dab hand with the Humbrol enamel these days (though he always has been). The trees and the air around them seem to flow into each other as a result of the half-light. That gloom effect again. Roaming in the Tile Hill gloaming.

In the essay, Shaw notes:
'The unseen made swings in the woods. On certain trees that looked as if they'd grown from seed for that sole purpose, ropes were tied around outstretched branches. Some had sticks tied to them for hanging from or sitting on or knots tied along their length for gripping onto. The ground underneath would be a bare circle of dragged and kicked earth. In time the rope would fray and break and be abandoned. But it would remain dangling there even when a new swing was made next to it.'

This swing pictured below is not in the wood, exactly. But in aTile Hill estate next to one of the woods. I'd like to be more specific but can't be, not at this stage of my investigation.

George Shaw. Summer Theologica, 2013: Humbrol enamel on board. 43x53cm

'I never saw or heard anyone making or using these swings. They appeared and were left and appeared again. Years later, as an uncomfortable adult treading the paths and undergrowth of the woods, I found these dangling ropes in the same places tied to the same trees.'

George Shaw. The Spoilt Summer, 2013: Humbrol enamel on board. 43x53cm

'Far from their previous lives as playthings, they now took on the sinister apparition of an execution site or a solitary exit door. At times the trees themselves looked like studies for the human body: executed figures or bodies heaped up at the foot of a cross. A triptych of the trapped; each isolated from the other in worlds without stories. My imaginative life has always taken the darker path but I found these discoveries more than chilling and quite real....'

Have I found the site of the above tree with the remnant of a swing attached to it? Not yet. I need to look around some garages. Off the beaten track. HIdden from view of the Google camera, perhaps. Sooner or later I'll find this spot. I just hope that there won't be a figure dangling from the end of the rope when I do. But for now, back into the wood much discussed in the Dublin catalogue essay.

'I saw and heard within this wooded Limbo the departed innocents dance hand in hand with the cursed and the banished.'

Cursed and banished on the left, departed innocent on the right?

George Shaw. The Damned III, 2013: Humbrol enamel on board. 198x147.5cm

All the paintings above are from 2013, but after Shaw's short essay, the catalogue's illustrations actually begin with a few images from just before that, starting with this one.

George Shaw. Between Shit and Piss, 2011: Humbrol enamel on board. 46x55cm

This bleak image of the entrance to a non-space (the term brick shit-house would seem appropriate) is the return to a motif painted from a safer distance ten years before:

tile hill8
George Shaw. Scenes from the Passion: The Evening, 2001: Humbrol enamel on board. 43x53cm

It's a site that George returned to for a Channel 4 documentary in 2004. The still from the film illustrated below shows that the dirty, sticky white detail picked up by the camera is still pretty much there in 2011 (if you scroll one up to the later painting).

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Still from The Late George Shaw, The Art Show, Channel 4, 2004

The next painting is from 2012.

George Shaw. The Dead Leaves, 2012. Humbrol enamel on board. 43x53cm

Again it marks a return to an earlier motif. The painting below is from 2009. The cemetery at Berkswell Church which is three miles into the countryside immediately to the west of Tile Hill. Not strictly Tile Hill, then? Well, yes, George and his family used to walk to the village on Sundays during his youth, so very much part of his territory.

George Shaw. Fallen More Slowly, 2009. Humbrol enamel on board. 43x53cm

The Fallen More Slowly title is another punning reference to something that can best be illustrated via a second still from 2004's The Late George Shaw.

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Still from The Late George Shaw, The Art Show, Channel 4, 2004

So let's get this right. First, in 2004, there were two monuments to the fallen still standing. By 2009 one of the monuments to the fallen had fallen. And by 2012 both monuments to the fallen had fallen. Well, not necessarily. The fallen cross in the 2012 image has not toppled from either of the bases shown in the earlier images, but is another monument. No doubt from the same cemetery, though I may not watch the documentary again just to try and confirm this. Life is too short.

The first of the images in the Dublin catalogue that was painted in 2013 is as follows.

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George Shaw. More Prats than Twats, 2013. Humbrol enamel on board. 43x53cm

So according to Shaw's title it was a prat rather than a twat that brought down the silver birch. Why the distinction? I'm not sure. Nor am I sure whereabouts in Tile Hill this prattish behaviour took place. However, I suspect that the building behind the brick wall is one of the blocks of flats off Rosemary Close towards the north west corner of Tile Hill. The juxtaposition of block of flats and brick wall - with glimpse of corrugated iron garage roof - suggests as much.

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I haven't been able to trace the precise location. My excuse is that Google doesn't allow me access to every sight-line. I can see all around from anywhere on the blue line. But not from elsewhere. Big bro Google is not, in fact, all-seeing

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What does the blue line remind me of? Oh yeah, dangling rope.

Slightly frustrated with my 2017 Google Map efforts at this stage, I decided I really wanted to find the location of the following 2013 painting from 'Neither My Arse Nor My Elbow'.

George Shaw. Homesick, 2013. Humbrol enamel on board. 115x152cm

I thought the site of
Homesick would be easy to track down, because the style of housing is distinct. Four floors of windows, whereas the majority of the estate is two-storey. And with a balcony that extends all the way along above the second floor.

The map below shows Tile Hill. Vaguely aware of where four-storey architecture was more likely to crop up, I dipped in and out of the network (enough rope to hang any everybody in the estate!) taking a good look around where I could. No access to the wood, of course. But there are no flats there anyway.

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Quite often I would find multi-floor living. And several times I found balconies. But not going all the way along the building, from one flat to another.

It was when I had given up on finding the site and was exploring the streets on the lookout for something else that I came across what I had been looking for. I can confidently say (no, I don't suppose I can) that this stretch of flats is unique in Tile Hill.

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I think I know why the painting is called Homesick. As a child of the 1970s, walking from home, or coming out of his primary school on Hawthorn Lane, George may have headed south for the row of shops that he would go on to paint with nostalgic precision in 1999.

George Shaw. The South, 1998. Humbrol enamel on board. 43x53cm

Observe the rose-tinted glare of childhood's summer! Living in a world where you avoid the cracks in the pavement and the shadows on the lawns, merely by hopping, skipping and jumping. And by holding your breath.

The row of shops is the dark block in the distance that the path leads to in the photo below, and the flats of
Homesick are in the white block nearest the right edge.

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As a child, George would have seen these flats before and after crossing the road. As a middle-aged adult in 2013 - past nostalgia and into full-blown lament for the loss of home, innocence, childhood - he chose a vantage point so as to include the massive tree. A hulking great piece of working class distress that seems to have escaped from the nearby wood. It's marked by a green-circled tree in the 'map' below.

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Why is the painting
Homesick heaving with distress ? Because time has passed. Children are children no longer. Hopping, skipping and jumping are out of the question. Holding one's breath leads to coughing fits. Dreams are dominated by hanging rather than flying. All is as before, yet everything, as David Bowie once said, has changed.

George Shaw. The End of Care, 2013. Humbrol enamel on board. 92x120cm

The End of Care (2013), above, is similar to The End of Time (2009), below. But is it the same site? Given its title, is the above wasteland not likely to be the site of a demolished care home or health centre rather than of a pub?

George Shaw. The End of Time, 2009. Humbrol enamel on board. 147x198cm

The End of Time is so called because it was the site of a pub in which the painter's mother used to work and where George drank occasionally with his father. ("Time, gentlemen, please.")The pub was called the New Star, then the Woodsman. Since the Woodsman was burnt to the ground, the site, right at the east end of Jardine Crescent, has been awaiting development.

Below is the situation as at April 2017, per the Google camera. The end of time seems ongoing. Eight years and not a single pint served. The end of care, indeed.

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There are two more 'endings' in 'Neither My Arse Nor My Elbow'.
The End of Work and The End of Pleasure. Here is the latter.

George Shaw. The End of Pleasure, 2013. Humbrol enamel on board. 92x120cm

As I was Street Viewing along Jardine Crescent - my grown-up equivalent to skipping - on the way back to the town centre from the site of
The End of Time, I noticed a building site on the left. I wondered if it might possibly be connected with any of the paintings I was presently concerned with.

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It didn't seem so. Not on the face of it. But I wondered what building had been knocked down. As it happens the Google camera has its own archive built into it, and as you can see from the inset screen in the above image, at this point there is a 2008 option.

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Tile Hill Social Club! So could the demolishing of
that be deemed the end of pleasure? Well, yes, there is no question, because if one focuses in on the front door, it becomes obvious that this was George's viewpoint for The End of Pleasure, cement surrounding bricks at the top of either side of the doorway giving the game away.

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But in a more substantive way,
The End of Pleasure as a title is justified by the obituary of Tile Hill Social Club which includes this quote:

'Those who will particularly miss the club will be the less mobile residents who are unable to go too far from home. The elderly and frail are always hurt by club closures as they can’t simply get into a car and drive somewhere else to meet their friends and find a bit of company. They are increasingly forced to stay at home, often alone, when all the reports from Age Concern and Help the Aged emphasise the need for the elderly to try to retain a social life.'

There is one more archival option that can be taken at this part of Jardine Crescent. So I take a look. It appears to be a photo of the newly-demolished Tile Hill Social Club, taken in November 2012.

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Could the pedestrian be George Shaw trying to regain his youth through wearing a ginger wig? (Sorry, George, I couldn't resist it.) Certainly, GS was there to take a photo around this time (November 2012, or perhaps a month or two later) and as a result this brooding painting (see below) was made in 2013. Maybe it was the faulty blue line that attracted the artist's attention.

George Shaw. The Building of the Winter Palace, 2013. Humbrol enamel on board. 115x152cm

There is such a heavy - yet calm - feel to this image. The covering of snow, the regular 'blocks' of fence and the strong horizontals in the foreground all contribute to such an impression. Layers of light and dark. Which dominates? The dark dominates, because the 'light' is snow and gloom and is literally failing. Or the light dominates, reflected up off the snowy ground to rejoin the sky via the delicate verticals of the top half of the corrugated blocks of fence. Take your pick. Not forgetting the blue line.

One feels that the title contains some oblique political comment, some subtle accusation. What might that be? Let's review the history of the building as noted by the
Coventry Telegraph and the online obituary mentioned already.

'Tile Hill Social Club opened in 1962 and became one of the biggest social clubs in the city.'

'It became well known for its state of the art upper floor premises, built in 1971. Further extensions and refurbishments were undertaken in the 1970s making it one of the largest clubs in Coventry. The concert hall alone could seat 350 people and had a large games room. Tile Hill participated fully in local CIU clubs games and sports leagues with plenty of successes for angling, darts, football and so on. The club also hosted a number of important dinner events for local and national CIU officials as well as Lord Mayors and councillors. It has one of the biggest stages in the West Midlands and its facilities were frequently praised by visiting dignitaries. The club provided discos for children on Saturday mornings, film clubs, boxing and all the usual parties and outings that our social clubs are famed for.'

'But in line with a trend across the city, membership declined and it went into private ownership rather than being owned by its members. In 2009 it closed down suddenly with owners saying it was too big to be viable. In 2011 more than 500 residents signed a petition opposing plans to replace the club with shops and flats. People were worried about large discount supermarkets putting existing local shops out of business. The plans were rejected by the council.'

Below is a view of the site as at April 2017. The type of fencing has been changed and is now transparent. So that the people of Tile Hill can keep track of the progress of their Winter Palace?

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I mustn't be cynical. Because in October 2016, The local Telegraph reported that the site of the old social club was to be used for 'supported accommodation'. The report outlined: 'There will be 28 flats designed for disabled adults who need some help with day to day life. For adults with autism and acute learning difficulties there will be separate accommodation with more intensive support. It will include four flats, six rooms with their own bathrooms and a communal lounge, kitchen and dining room.'

The site is coming out of limbo then. At least that is the plan. George Shaw wouldn't have known that when he painted his picture in 2013. Maybe some day there will be a triptych:
The End of Pleasure, The Building of the Winter Palace, The Beginning of Summer.

But that's all very well for me to say. The cycle has got to feel right to George Shaw one of these days. I mean deep in the centre of his being.

But hang on. I've just noticed a reader's comment at the end of the online report in the
Coventry Telegraph. Someone signed in as 'Rof' says: 'Flats for disabled? Seeing is believing.'

I guess we should indeed leave the champagne on ice. Just to be on the safe side.

OK, I think I'm ready to take on the
pièce de résistance of the Dublin show, or 2013, whichever you want to emphasise. The only painting that is illustrated over a double page in acknowledgement of its size and, I would suggest, importance. Let it bleed:

George Shaw. We Are Making an Old World, 2013: Humbrol enamel on board. 147.5x198cm

What is this a picture of? A Tile Hill sunset? Yes, I think so, and I'll be exploring this aspect, but first a word about the painting's size. When Shaw began his paintings of Tile Hill in the late 90s, they were on boards measuring 43cm x 53cm, a size used often since. Over the years, Shaw embarked on the use of larger and larger boards, culminating in the 147.5cm x 198cm pictures. That's nearly four times wider and higher than the 'basic' size. And in terms of surface area, sixteen 1999 paintings could just about fit within the area of a single large picture. That doesn't mean a painting such as We are Making an Old World would have taken sixteen times longer than any of the pictures from 'Scenes from the Passion', as Shaw is bound to use much bigger paint brushes and paint pots for them, but surely it does denote some kind of status.

I think Shaw first used this size of board at the end of 2008, for
The End of Time. And as far as I can see he's used that large size since for only five paintings in 2009 and 2010, before returning to it in 2013 for The Damned I, II, and III and for We are Making an Old World. Below the 2009 and 2010 pictures are brought down to postage stamp size for reference purposes:

George Shaw. The End of Time, 2008/2009. George Shaw, Your End, 2009. George Shaw, The Blocked Drain, 2009.
George Shaw. No Returns, 2010. George Shaw, Low Life, 2010. George Shaw, The Next Big Thing, 2010.

Is there something consistent about them compared to their smaller relations? They are amongst the bleakest paintings. Misery maximised. Closure writ large.

Hanging together, the six paintings would cover 3 metres by 6 metres of Tate Modern or Tate Britain. I'd like to see that one day. But for now let's get back to the Tile Hill sunset.

It took me a long time to trace the site of the picture, even though I was correct in thinking it is a western viewpoint. That's because the site is further to the west of the area I was considering to be Tile Hill.

On the face of it, the image below is not the site of
We are Making an Old World, despite the similarity of the building to the right and the general lay of the land, because there are houses rather than trees in the background.

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However, the image below, from the Google archive, shows that there were trees on the horizon back in 2008. And a huge building in the foreground, of which more very soon.

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If those distant trees (and the long low building on the right) are not entirely convincing, what made me realise I surely did have the actual site of the vivid sunset was remembering that Massey Ferguson had its factory on this site. The multi-storey building in the above photo, built in the 1960s, being the company's offices. At Tile Hill, Massey Ferguson made tractors. According to the BBC, three million tractors rolled off the production line between 1946 and 2003, when the factory and the 16-storey tower closed for business. And what colour were these tractors? A quick Google search gives the answer:

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Imagine working near the top of the 16-floor tower. In the streets beneath you, tractors going off to the four corners of the earth. All the land being ploughed for fields that would grow crops that would feed the world's growing population. You could get carried away with a vision like that. And you're earning a monthly paycheque into the bargain!

And when you finish work for the day, you can go home to your house on the estate. Or walk to Tile Hill Social Club for a concert or a game of darts. Or to the Black Prince for a pint and a listen to 'Bingo Master's Breakout' on the jukebox. Or just take in the sunset, knowing that the sun will rise again on you and yours without fail the very next day.

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George Shaw. We Are Making an Old World (detail), 2013: Humbrol enamel on board. 147.5x198cm

Remaining at the top of the tower, I realise I'm having a Magnus Mills moment. Mills being the remarkably original author of
The Scheme for Full Employment and The Maintenance of Headway. Novels whose deadpan-delivery makes me smile. Novels about delivery vans and buses, respectively, and the abject humans that drive them. But if Mills had ever been to the Massey Ferguson tower, he might have come up with a plot involving the movement of red tractors from one country to another. Or, more likely, from one holding centre in the Midlands to another.

The tractor below ended up in a front garden in Oxfordshire.

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Posted on forum Historic Coventry ( by Midland Red

There are no tractors in front gardens in Tile Hill. Or at least I haven't come across any via Google. More significantly, no tractor has ever got to grips with the areas of woodland in Tile Hill. Town planning ensures that what's left of the Forest of Arden stays as it is. Things may not be perfect, but they could be a lot worse. The woods have to stay. Seriously.

Lingering still at the top of the MF tower. Right here I'm going to mention the Elvis Costello song, 'Hoover Factory'. It's from 1980, which means I could save it for discussion on the next page, but on balance I'll introduce it here. Actually, I don't need to introduce it, just quote the beginning of the song:

"Five miles out of London on the Western Avenue
Must have been a wonder when it was brand new
Talkin' 'bout the splendour of the Hoover factory
I know that you'd agree if you had seen it too.

It's not a matter of life or death
But what is, what is ?
It doesn't matter if I take another breath
Who cares ? Who cares ?"

So George Shaw's glorious painting is more than a nod to the sun setting on Massey Ferguson, a major employer in the Midlands in general and the Tile Hill district of Coventry in particular. I recall that when I interviewed George in 1999, he mentioned that his brother worked at Massey Ferguson and that reproductions of George's paintings would be discussed by fellow workers.

I expect they would have felt shock and awe on seeing
We Are Making An Old World. Except the place closed in 2003 so they wouldn't have seen the 2013 painting. And I expect they would have felt shock and absolute horror on seeing the next 2013 painting from 'Neither My Arse Nor My Elbow', if they'd somehow been given a sneak preview of it back in 1999.

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George Shaw. The End of Work, 2013. Humbrol enamel on board. 92x120cm

As the above image from the Dublin show is called The End of Work, I wondered if it could relate to the 16-floor office block. Again the Street View camera came up trumps. The photo below, which is from July 2012, shows the same pile of demolished building as evidenced by a bit of framing towards the top and right of the heap. Nightfall and the amber street lights have turned the fence a different colour, but it's the same fence all right. The presence of a bulldozer to the left means that the pile of rubble is not going to be there for long. Just a coincidence that Google caught it on one of their infrequent (but invaluable) forays. Perhaps George Shaw made a deliberate effort to be there with his own camera at this historic juncture.

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There's an online discussion forum which contains an exchange about the loss of the Massey Ferguson tower block. A post from 'Vtopian', Hertfordshire, says:

'I wish my late father was around to see the demolition of the office block. The denizens of those offices were known around the factory as "The pen-pushers in the Ivory Tower", so I imagine that the general sadness for the decline of the city's industry, and most especially for the destruction of Banner Lane might have been tempered by the sight of the "Ivory Tower" crumbling to nothing. Surely not even those who worked in the tower will feel any sense of nostalgia for the building, maybe for the people, but not the offices!'

Which prompted this tetchy response from 'flapdoodle', Coventry:

'Odd attitude to have about people who work in offices. A large company needs 'pen pushers' to handle financial affairs, logistics, sales functions, purchasing functions, building maintenance & site maintenance. And then there's engineering & design, both of which tend to be office based, and perhaps the most important job in a business like Massey Ferguson. Oh, and who looks after staff issues and recruitment? Without all this just exactly how would the shop floor actually get anything to build? Who do you think designs things like tractors? Comes up with the requirements and drafts the drawings? Works out bills of materials? Purchases parts? Specifies parts? There is far more to bringing a product like a tractor or car to market than just putting it together in a factory!'

Over to 'Vtopian':

'I'm very sorry, flapdoodle, I honestly had no intention of causing any offence. Obviously, the greatest tractor manufacturing site in Europe needed all of the departments to function as successfully as it indisputably did for a very long time. It certainly put bread on our table, and it is awfully sad to see it gone. I do not think there was any real malice in the nickname, just Coventry's legendary wry humour at work!'

Equanimity restored, let's leave Vtopian and flapdoodle. Because I've just realised that there is another George Shaw painting that is of the old Massey Ferguson site, painted in time for the Turner Prize show in 2011.

George Shaw. The New Houses, 2011. Humbrol enamel on board. 92x120cm

Below is a view from the Google Street View camera, taken in October of 2010.

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As I'm looking at this to check the correspondence, I realise the background is also very similar to that of We are Making an Old World. Let's get the catalogue open again at the groovy centrefold...

George Shaw. We Are Making an Old World, 2013: Humbrol enamel on board. 147.5x198cm

Yes, that's a match, give or take a few yards (if you still trust my judgement). The clumps of trees to the immediate left of the page's neat stitching, and the trees to the immediate right, can be identified in the last photo.

Archived on the BBC's website, a director of Persimmon Homes South Midlands, an urban developer, states that 1,000 homes will have been built on the old tractor factory site when the area has been fully developed. I suspect that George is not altogether impressed with this and that the two titles:
The New Houses and We Are Making An Old World should be seen in conjunction.

The old, fresh, green world is going. The new world promised us is old and grey even before it's born. You could say it's more of the same old crap that's cropping up all around. Let's just hope that the developers never get their hands (and tractors) on the woods around Tile Hill. As I said just a few paragraphs ago. The woods must stay. Permanently.

In the overhead view below, I've marked where I
thought the sunset was painted from until five minutes ago (the guy on Banner Lane, also the viewpoint for The End of Work), and where I now realise it was painted from (the guy close to Monticello Way, also the viewpoint for The New Houses).

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The Street View that's two images up, was taken in October 2010. The tower block would have been still there by then, as it wasn't demolished until July 2012. If I swivel the Google camera so that I'm looking over my left shoulder, as it were, the tower block should loom large. Bingo...

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Let's pull something together.

1) July, 2012, demolition of the Massey Ferguson Tower Block following its closure in 2003.
2) November, 2012, demolition of Tile Hill Social Club following its closure in 2009.

So 2012 must have been a depressing year for the denizens of Tile Hill, certainly those that had been there since the 1960s, like at least one member of George Shaw's immediate family. One can understand why the end of things is such a strong theme of the 2013 paintings and of the show, which might have been called 'Neither Our Tower Block Nor Our Social Club'.

Sometimes, as in the short essay in the Dublin catalogue, Shaw gives the impression that his work is primarily about his feelings about his own coming and going. And of course it is. But it's also socially engaged. He can't help represent a particular generation and a specific place. More than that, anyone brought up on an estate in post-war Britain can surely relate to the observations and emotions that Shaw explores with such consistent and considered understatement and nuance.

Perhaps at the end of a working day an employee of Massey Ferguson would make his or her way, via the wood, from the tower block (top left of the aerial view shown below) to the social club (middle right), just to clear his or her mind of the image of tractors. Of course, it's not that easy to clear your mind of what you've been doing all day. Routine is called 'mind-numbing' for a good reason. A bit of wandering/circling/staggering in the wilderness might be necessary until the devil within is accessed. And of course the devil makes you do things. Make fires. Consume porn. Scream.

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Perhaps that ex-employee still makes the walk today. But finds the tower block gone and the social club missing too. Back and forward... up and down... he/she finds his/her footsteps spelling out the word 'LIMBO' in the wood.

Shaw says in the catalogue essay: '
Maps do help us to get from here to there but they do not help us when we are done with travelling or when there is nowhere left to go. Unless of course, it is something like the Mappa Mundi, which seeks to show as much about the unknown as the known world, like a memory of a darkness to come; a map for leaving, for those who have left and for those left behind.'

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No choice but to linger in the wood, in the end. What end? The end of work, the end of pleasure, the end of care. Whose end? Your end, my end, our end. Lamenting the passing of buildings, associated social networks, home and life itself. One dangling rope tied to a branch brings to mind a colleague who worked in the tower block. Another snapped rope calls up an image of a bloke who gave the impression of being unbeatable at darts.

George Shaw. The Damned III, 2013: Humbrol enamel on board. 198x147.5cm

But then again there is something life-enhancing about finding oneself alone in a wood.

Still alive, after all. And liking it.

Many things gone but the self itself NOT DEAD YET.

What more can be said about this blessed state of not dead yetness?

I hope to investigate further.

Postscript, 2017

George doesn't usually correct or confirm my geography, but on this occasion he's told me that the site of
The End of Care is what was Hawthorn Lodge, a care home at the junction of Broad Street and Jardine Crescent.

Here is an image of it back in 2008, when the care home still stood on the site.

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While the photo below is courtesy of the Google camera in 2015...

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This means that
The End of Care, The End of Pleasure and The End of Time are all sites adjoining Jardine Crescent, as marked with purple circles on the map below.

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Hawthorn Lodge care home was deemed no longer fit for purpose in 2009 and was demolished then. Top left of the map. At the opposite end of Jardine Crescent, The Woodsman burned down in 2000, but the remains of the pub wasn't bulldozed clear until 2006. Between these two sites, Tile Hill Social Club closed in 2009 and was bulldozed in 2012. All three sites remain vacant, though there may be plans for the former social club and care home sites.

The End of Care (bulldozed 2006), The End of Pleasure (bulldozed 2009), The End of Time , not to mention The End of Work, (both bulldozed 2012). I wonder what the Tile Hill bulldozer did to earn its corn in 2015.


1) The images of George Shaw’s works on this site are copyright the artist. Many of them appear courtesy of Wilkinson Gallery, photography by Peter White.

2) Thanks to Google for the use of their Google Maps and associated tools.