Following this he was the recipient of the Frances Hodgkins Fellowship, and his work is highly sought after that. He has received the Seppelt Contemporary Art Award from Sydney Museum of Contemporary Art, and has been exhibited at many leading galleries in Australia and New Zealand, as well as in Spain and Prague.
Cotton's work evocatively includes both Maori iconography and culture, such as shrunken heads, mokomokai, and native birds such as tui, and European symbols and items. His paintings have explored questions of colonialism, cultural identity, Maori spirituality, and life and death.
Many of his paintings go into depth of primitive ideas especially through Maori whakapapa.
ONZM (Officer of the said Order), for services to the Visual arts
2008 Arts Foundation of New Zealand Laureate Award
1999 Te Tohu Mahi Hou a Te Waka Toi/Te Waka Toi Award for New Work
1998 Ethel Rose Overton Scholarship; Sawtell-Turner Prize in Painting; Irwin Allen Hunt Scholarship; Frances Hodgkins Fellowship University of Otago, Dunedin; Seppelt Contemporary Art Award for visual arts, Museum of contemporary Art, Sydney.
2004 Shane Cotton Survey 1993–2003, Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tamaki, Auckland
2003 Shane Cotton Survey 1993-2003, City Gallery Wellington; Shane Cotton: Recent Painting, Gow Langsford Gallery, Auckland; Shane Cotton: Paintings,SOFA Gallery, School of Fine Arts, University of Canterbury, Christchurch; Shane Cotton: New Paintings, Brooke-Gifford Gallery, Christchurch
2002 Powder Garden, Hamish McKay Gallery, Wellington; Birds Eyes Views, Mori Gallery, Sydney
1997 New Painting, Brooke Gifford Gallery, Christchurch; Square Style, Mori Gallery, Sydney
1996 New Painting, Anna Bibby Gallery, Auckland; New Painting, Hamish McKay Gallery, Wellington
1995 Shane Cotton: Recent Paintings, Govett-Brewster Art Gallery, New Plymouth; Te Ta Pahara, Brooke Gifford Gallery, Christchurch; Shane Cotton: Recent Paintings, Darren Knight Gallery, Melbourne; Ta Te Whenua, Manawatu Art Gallery Palmerston North; Fisher Gallery, Auckland
1994 New Works, Claybrook Gallery, Auckland; New Painting, Hamish McKay Gallery, Wellington
1993 Collections: New Work by Shane Cotton, Hamish McKay Gallery, Wellington
1992 Strata, Brooke Gifford Gallery, Christchurch
1990 Nature Forms Myth, Last Decade Gallery, Wellington