George Shaw (1966–) is a British painter known for his meticulous depictions of Tile Hill in Coventry, a post–World War II council housing estate where Shaw lived from 1968 until the late 1980s. This article assesses Shaw's work as a product of a wider struggle between the idealistic principles of postwar council estate planning and the later negative social and aesthetic stereotyping of these estates. Next, it discusses how Shaw's paintings appear to cope with this struggle by “spectrally wavering” between a visualization of Tile Hill as remembered from his childhood and as it is in its present condition. Finally, Shaw's work is examined in relation to theories of autobiographical memory and childhood development to show how the postwar council estate had an indelible effect on the formation of Shaw's personal and cultural identity.
“Places Where I Forgot Things”: Memory, Identity, and the British Council Estate in the Paintings of George Shaw
Ian Waites is a senior lecturer in the history of art and design at the University of Lincoln. He is the author of Common Land in English Painting: 1700–1850 (2012). He grew up on a 1960s council estate in England and writes a blog on the subject: instancesofachangedsociety.blogspot.co.uk/