Coventry-born George Shaw is one of my favourite artists and, as I lived not so far away during my childhood and teens, his paintings based around the Tile Hill estate where he grew up have great resonance for me. I find them ‘uncanny’: realistic but other-worldly at the same time, unpeopled yet denoting lives being lived behind shut curtains, locked doors. That they are painted in the unusual medium of Humbrol enamel paints adds to their appeal:deliberately unshowy in execution with their flat surfaces but in a gallery, they beckon the viewer on entrance and keep hold.

the goal mouth george shaw

In this poem I attempt to capture something of the effects of this painting, ‘The Goal Mouth’.


The mouth is trying to speak. There is no-one to hear.
Just you looking in. From there. Being drawn across
wet green paint. Don’t touch. The sky isn’t dry
either, windows and doors are in danger of running.
Count verticals you can open or look through.
Your mind can stretch further but why should it.
All you’ll ever need is here. The mouth beckons.
Inside, of course they are. Listen. You’ll hear.

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