Two new exhibitions at The Box yesterday had me pondering. The exhibitions themselves couldn’t be more different and yet they are both about a sense of place and our place in places
Because the Night Belongs to Us, is an exhibition about Plymouths changing nightlife. George Shaws, George Shaw is about one mans relationship with his home.
Goodness me they made me think and for anyone local to Plymouth I would recommend a visit over the summer.
George Shaw paints landscapes in Humbrol Enamel Paint. The smell in the galleries is soft and curiously nostalgic. The paintings are intimate and sometimes painfully similar to my own life experience. Because the Night is similarly evocative, dark and warm coloured, neon lit with snatches of music both familiar and unknown. The only thing missing in this exhibition of the underbelly of a city is sticky carpet and the smells.
I am not from Plymouth or Coventry, the two cities that are the subject of these exhibitions but I am a wandering citizen of the worlds they represent.
George Shaw paints a council estate and the council house in which he grew up. I’ve never lived on a council estate but like many people I am deeply familiar with their architecture and the proportions and landscaping of Social housing. His painting could easily be of the corner of North East Essex, where I grew up.
George Shaws painting of a tree ‘New Romantic’ could be the tree in my home village of Gosfield, which was also a serial victim of vandalism or in a different mindset, embellishments.
In my village, during the seventies, and quite possibly in George’s tree zone it was relatively common to find old porn mags and beer cans in the undergrowth, curious treasure for children to find, we were amused more than harmed by it. Such things were, of course, the night life of these little patches of woodland.
Again finding a common experience in someone elses life. George depicts, in a series of drawings his childhood home emptied following the death of his last parent. The heartbreaking emptiness after the forensic clearing that most of us will have to go through. The last time you will ever see that, oh so familiar, back door of your childhood and or adulthood. The door that launched you into the world.
The back door indeed that you crept through after venturing into your version of Nightife.
A fab day working at The Box, thinking my own thoughts and sharing other peoples experiences. What better way to spend a Wednesday.