Experimentation is at the heart of Shaw-Town’s practice. Where materials and meaning are consumed and recycled, and subsequently presented as manifestations of process as content. The value of ‘found’ or ‘made’ objects and images are treated equally, they each perform an important role and speak about routine, ritual and the act of doing. The understanding of language and its functions also plays a key role in the way Shaw-Town makes work:
“My wife and daughter speak Swedish in our home, it’s a language I don’t speak, but have come to understand conversations more through the way they are spoken and the context of the given moment, than what the words actually mean. This constant lack of clear narrative has fed into my work, there isn’t a linear path in how to read the various components of the installation, but each work contains something tangible for you, the viewer, to build your own idea about meaning”.
Newsprint is a constant material for Shaw-Town, as it places the work at a specific time and locates the moment of production. He uses a transfer process to move the ink from the newspaper to the surface of the painting; in these works the texts and image dissolve and permeate one another until sometimes no longer legible, but have become forms, movements and collations of signs and colored elements.
The process of transferring opens up the idea of painting to other forms of labor and history, this hands on method of printing using heat and pressure celebrates older methods of reproduction where two surfaces are required to make an image. In the language of semiotics transferring is an indexical process. Meaning that the print results from immediate physical contiguity with the matrix (block/plate/screen) that produces it. In addition, over-size letter and punctuation stencils have been used within the compositions, these fragmented and isolated symbols give a feeling that each piece is perhaps part of a bigger whole, and therefore is as much about the idea of potential and what you can’t see. Shaw-Town likes to think of these paintings as ‘used surfaces’, they’re built up of layers from decisions that have been covered over, removed and re-done.
The works on the floor consist primarily of folded drawings: here the paper is saturated in graphite through a labor intensive process of mark making until the entire sheet is covered and the paper is no longer visible. The paper is handled, kneaded and folded, then displayed as sculpture, keeping the majority of the surface hidden. Accompanying these is a selection of manipulated objects, amongst them is a bar of soap polished in graphite and an inside out football with each pentagon and hexagon numbered, these gestures at once remove functionality but maintain the characteristics of what they are and demand greater attention, because sometimes it’s a case of looking again, at the same thing, and re-thinking how we look at it.