Tim Shaw (sculptor)

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Tim Shaw, RA
Tim Shaw Casting a Dark Democracy.jpeg
Casting A Dark Democracy
Born (1964-08-07) August 7, 1964 (age 52)
Nationality Northern Irish
Education Falmouth School of Art
Known for Sculpture, Contemporary Visual Art

Tim Shaw RA (born 1964) is a Belfast-born sculptor and contemporary visual artist working in Cornwall UK.


Tim Shaw completed an art foundation course at Manchester Polytechnic and then a BA (Hons) Fine Art degree at Falmouth University.

Major works[edit]

It was during his time at art school that Tim Shaw began work on Middle World, a complex sculpture that would continue to develop over the next twenty years.[1] In 2009 the work was shortlisted for the Threadneedle Prize.[2] Larger versions of two of the figures in Middle World, Angel and Drummer of Light, were exhibited in Truro Cathedral in 2004, prompting either “love or hate” reactions from visitors. Colin Reid, communications officer at the cathedral, commented that the sculptures were challenging to traditional religious concepts, both in their appearance and in the material used for their construction (notably the use of concrete).

From 2000 to 2004, Shaw was also working on a commission from The Eden Project for an installation that would span the entire vine exhibit in the Mediterranean Biome. The resulting work, entitled The Rites of Dionysus, is sculpted in copper and draws on the cult of Dionysus and his followers the Maenads for inspiration. An attack of phylloxera that hit the vines in 2002 led to Shaw also sculpting copper vine forms for the space, which the newly planted vines were then grafted onto and would later grow into the shape of.

One of the figures originally intended for this installation was held back at the time due to concerns that it would be found too controversial. These fears were seen to have some foundations when Shaw's 2007 version of the figure, a three metre high, “naked, portly, and proudly erect”[3] rendering of Silenus, was attacked during its exhibition in a Vyner Street gallery in London's East End by a man wielding an iron bar, shouting “You're worshiping the wrong God!”[4] The work was purchased by notable art collector, David Roberts.

The influence of myth, seen in Shaw's early work, is once again present in his 2008 sculpture, Minotaur, a piece that was commissioned to mark the opening of Harrison Birtwistle's Opera, The Minotaur.[5] After this, however, the more political side to his work becomes increasingly evident with a number of sculptures responding to issues such as terrorism and the war in Iraq.[6] At this time Shaw was working in London as a Fellow sculptor at the Kenneth Armitage Foundation. The main works he produced during this 2006 to 2008 residency were Man on Fire: What God of Love Inspires Such Hate in the Hearts of Men, Tank on Fire (awarded the selectors' choice Threadneedle prize in 2008),[7] and the multi-sensory installation Casting a Dark Democracy – Shaw's haunting response to the now infamous image of the Abu Ghraib prisoner, described as "one of too few works to engage unequivocally with the reality and human cost of the Iraq war."[8]

Tim Shaw was elected to be a Royal Academician in 2013 - joining some of the greatest names in contemporary British art.[9]

Shaw won the prestigious Jack Goldhill Award for Sculpture at The Royal Academy of Arts Summer Exhibition in 2015.[10]

Public and private commissions[edit]

  • The Green Man (2012), Antony, Cornwall
  • Drummer (2009–11), Lemon Quay, Truro, Cornwall.
  • The Minotaur (2008), The Royal Opera House, Bow Street, London.
  • Seamus Heaney Portrait Bust (2005), Private Collection.
  • Rites of Dionysus (2000-4), The Eden Project, Cornwall.

Awards and prizes[edit]

  • The Jack Goldhill Award for Sculpture at The Royal Academy Summer Exhibition (2015).[11]
  • Threadneedle Prize Shortlist (2009), Mall Galleries[12]
  • FBA Selectors' Choice Prize: Threadneedle Prize (2008), Mall Galleries[13]
  • Kenneth Armitage Sculpture Fellowship (2006)
  • The Mullan Prize (2005), Royal Ulster Academy Annual Exhibition
  • Prince of Wales Bursary (2005), The British School at Athens
  • Millfield Summer Open Exhibition (2003), - First Prize
  • Discerning Eye (1997), Mall Galleries – Prize Winner
  • Delfina Studio Trust Award (1996)


External links[edit]