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We have known Tim Shaw and his art for some twenty-five years – since he was fresh out of art school and sculpting the baroque ‘Middle World’ in a damp and drafty barn in Cornwall. There was no question, even then, that he would become, as Mark Hudson wrote, ‘one of the great storytellers of British art.’  Hudson rightly extols ‘the tension between tradition and nowness, between solidity and nightmarish breakdown,’ for not only is Shaw one of our great storytellers, he is one of our great sculptors. His classical prowess is reminiscent of Rodin – as evidenced by his beautifully modeled bronzes  – but his scope is fundamentally other: it is primal, risky and political. As a child in Northern Ireland, Shaw was dining with his mum when the pub blew up, and while he revisits this memory directly in ‘Mother The Air is Blue, The Air is Dangerous’, it is latent in his attention to war. ‘Casting a Dark Democracy’ – based on the iconic Abu Ghraib prisoner, sculpted of heavy metal, barbed wire, Polythene and electrical cable, and positioned above a reflecting pool of oil – was praised as ‘the most politically charged yet poetically resonant new work on show in London’.* For years, we have watched as Shaw has extended his materials from clay to fabric to plastic and oil, and now it is we who are being watched by his ‘Breakdown Clown’ – an A.I. robot, ‘sculpted in residency at the Käte Hamburger Kolleg: Law is Culture. The renowned sculptor, Michael Sandle RA has declared it ‘a work of towering genius.’

Shaw is a Royal Academician, Fellow of The Royal British Society of Sculptors, Fellow of Falmouth University, recipient of The Kenneth Armitage Award, the Royal Academy Sculpture Award 2015, and the Threadneedle Prize 2008. Public commissions include The Rites of Dionysos for The Eden Project, The Minotaur for The Royal Opera House and The Drummer for Lemon Quay, Truro.


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  • Jackie Wullschlager, from The Financial Times
  • Select photos courtesy of Tim Shaw RA.