Shankill artist Stephen Shaw returns home

Artist Stephen Shaw
Artist Stephen Shaw

Shankill-born artist Stephen Shaw, is returning for an exhibition showcasing the stark, enigmatic watercolour depictions of derelict houses and burnt out cars from his early life.

The exhibition, ‘From Shankill to Beyond’, opens today at Shankill Road Library and will run until November 25.

The artist said the political landscape and the redevelopment work going on in the Shankill during the early 1980s was a great inspiration.

“I’m originally from the Shankill, from Woodvale,” he said. “I’ve been a full-time artist for about 10-15 years but I’ve been an artist for way longer than that. I went to art college in Belfast, I was a community worker, I worked in a newspaper called the Shankill Bulletin as well, but I always painted.

“I started painting the Shankill in the early 1980s. At that time the area was being massively redeveloped and lots of familiar and much-loved buildings were being left derelict, awaiting their fate.

“I started painting these and obviously the Troubles were raging at that time too - this was sort of my reaction to what was going on around me

“I was still living in the Shankill then so I was painting what was virtually on my own doorstep - these were blocked up houses, shops, pubs and things in just a general state of disrepair.

“It was my reaction. The job of the artist is not always just to reproduce or react to beautiful things but you have to react to other things and bring them to the attention of people, to make them talk and make them think. Beauty comes from it. Sometimes you see a house just torn in half, with furniture left behind. This is people’s lives, just left.

“I would almost see the stories. I can imagine the families. I started creating pictures around the Shankill area, reacting to the political situation at the time and the redevelopment situation. I found beauty in these things.”

The exhibition showcases Stephen’s work in the Shankill and further afield.