Nationwide tour announced for George Shaw: My Back to Nature

Issued October 2016

“George Shaw is the kind of painter Britain does best, a close observer who on this evidence has the sharp eye of a Freud or Hockney. He’s still in his 40s. Can’t wait to see his work when he is 80.”

Jonathan Jones, The Guardian

“It casts light on Titian. It casts light on the National Gallery. It even casts light - of a murky, Coventry intensity - on what art is supposed to do. Add all that up and you have a profound achievement.”

Waldemar Januszczak, The Sunday Times

Just a few weeks remain to see the critically acclaimed George Shaw: My Back to Nature at the National Gallery, London (on until 30 October), before the exhibition embarks on an 18-month nationwide tour.

George Shaw, The Living and The Dead, 2015-2016 © Courtesy : The Artist and Wilkinson Gallery, London

George Shaw, The Living and The Dead, 2015-2016 © Courtesy : The Artist and Wilkinson Gallery, London

'My Back to Nature' – a free exhibition of more than fifty new paintings and drawings – is the result of George Shaw’s two-and-a-half years as the National Gallery’s Rootstein Hopkins Associate Artist.

Based in a studio located in the heart of the National Gallery, Shaw had swift and unrestricted access to the Gallery to explore the collection out of hours at his leisure, draw from the pictures, observe the public, and find inspiration in great art for his own work. The result is predominantly woodland landscapes, ones that investigate the clash of cultures; classical stories linked with the traces of similar, timeless behaviour in the modern world; and the portrayal of religion.

From January 2017 until September 2018 the exhibition will travel the length and breadth of the UK as part of the National Gallery’s commitment to promote the understanding, knowledge, and appreciation of Old Master paintings and to make the National Gallery’s exhibitions available to as wide an audience as possible.

National Gallery Director Dr Gabriele Finaldi, says:

“George Shaw’s paintings tap into popular British culture and the tradition of the great masters. The result is by turns witty, moving, and irreverent. The body of works he produced at the National Gallery offers a fresh and energising response to the paintings of Titian, Poussin, and Constable and we are delighted to share it with so many UK venues.”


Abbot Hall Art Gallery, Kendal (13 January – 11 March 2017)
De La Warr Pavilion, Bexhill-on-Sea
(25 March –18 June 2017)
The Civic, Barnsley
(29 July – 21 October 2017)
The Collection, Lincoln
(4 November 2017 – 14 January 2018)
Royal Albert Memorial Museum & Art Gallery, Exeter
(27 January – 8 April 2018)
Southampton City Art Gallery
(4 May – 1 September 2018)


IMAGE - George Shaw, 'The Living and the Dead', 2015–16 © The Artist and Wilkinson Gallery, London


George Shaw was born in 1966 in Coventry. He studied Fine Art at Sheffield Polytechnic from 1986 to  1989 and gained an MA in painting from the Royal College of Art in London in 1998.

Solo exhibitions have included: 'Looking for Baz. Shaz. Gaz and Daz', Void, Derry (2010); 'Woodsman', Wilkinson Gallery, London (2009); 'The End of the World', Galerie Hussenot, Paris (2008); 'A Day for a Small Poet', Clough Hanson Gallery, Rhodes College, Memphis, USA (2007); 'Poets Day', Centre d ‘Art Contemporain, Geneva (2006); 'Ash Wednesday', Wilkinson Gallery, London (2005), and 'What I did this Summer', Ikon Gallery, Birmingham (2003).

He has participated in group shows in London at White Cube, Tate Britain, Whitechapel Gallery, Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA), and the Jerwood Gallery. Internationally he has exhibited at Gladstone Gallery, New York, Kohn Gallery, Los Angeles, City Art Gallery, Prague, Ex Teresa Arte Actual, Mexico, and Fabian & Claude Walter Galerie, Basel. He was nominated for the Turner Prize in 2011.


The Rootstein Hopkins Foundation Associate Artist Scheme enables leading contemporary artists to work with a collection of paintings that were made before 1900. The appointment is by invitation and is for a period of two years. The artist is given a studio in which to make new work that in some way connects to the National Gallery Collection. It is designed to demonstrate the continuing inspiration of the Old Master tradition on today's artists. George Shaw is the ninth Rootstein Hopkins Associate Artist. For more information about the Foundation please visit  

The Sunley Room exhibition programme is supported by the Bernard Sunley Charitable Foundation.

For further information, please contact:

The National Gallery Press Office on 020 7747 2865 or email

Abbot Hall Art Gallery Press Office on 015394 46191 or email

De La Warr Pavilion, Bexhill-on-Sea on 01424 229137 or email

The Civic, Barnsley on 01226 327011 or email

The Collection, Lincoln on 01522 550952 or email

Royal Albert Memorial Museum & Art Gallery, Exeter on 01392 265317 or email

Southampton City Art Gallery on 023 8083 2000 or email