Meet the Turner Prize Nominees: A Q&A With Artist George Shaw



George Shaw, 44, was born and grew up in Coventry, and all his paintings picture the council estate where he spent his childhood and teenage years. Working exclusively with Humbrol enamel paint, which is traditionally used for model making, Shaw maps an urban dystopia devoid of human presence. Their generic red brick buildings could be found anywhere in Britain and yet Shaw's pictures are infused with a deeply personal sense of nostalgia. Shaw was nominated for the Turner Prize for his solo exhibition at BALTIC, Centre for Contemporary Art, Gateshead.
The Turner Prize 2011's shortlist also includes Karla Black, Martin Boyce, and Hilary Lloyd. The winner will be announced on the 5 December at BALTIC, Gateshead, where an exhibition of the nominees' work is currently held.

How did you react when you first heard about your nomination?
I was a bit surprised. I asked if I could think about it. It felt like a hoax. Of course I felt very honored. I couldn’t wait to tell my mum and I was sad because I couldn’t tell my dad.
Why and how did you get into art?
I was good at it.
What's the nearest you've ever come to giving it all up?
When all these sort of questions started coming.
What would you be if not an artist?
Unemployed.
With which dead artist would you most like to have coffee and a chat?
L.S. Lowry.
If you could, how would you edit your past?
I can and I’m doing it for a living.
For which piece do you think you'll be remembered?
I’ve come to think that all these paintings of the place I was brought up are one piece of work so it’ll be the one I’m currently working on.
What's your biggest disappointment?
Christmas.
You live in Devon because ...
I can see the sea without getting out of bed.
What does home feel like?
On a rainy afternoon sitting on my settee with a cuppa, a bag of minstrels and an old Ealing film.
Which piece of art would you take to a desert island and why?
The Hereford Mappa Mundi ... because it’s the whole world. I’d have a go at doing another before I starved to death.
Tell us something no one knows about you.
Deep down I’m very happy.
What's the best thing about being a Turner Prize nominee?
That the work I do is seen, and with luck, considered.

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