For two years the 'My Back To Nature' page has been 'pending'. So I'll leave it at that and begin a new page. In this way, autumn 2017 becomes summer 2019.

The opportunity to begin again has been provided by the appearance on my desk of a massive hardback book, lavishly illustrated and beautifully produced in every way.


Some time-pressed worker at Amazon has scribbled on the dust-jacket of my copy, and although the book was cellophane-sealed, the marks went through to the delicate cover, printed with a scene from Tile Hill wood with the words 'GEORGE SHAW, A CORNER OF A FOREIGN FIELD' written over it. Oh well, perfection is not of this world. Ask Christ after he'd been nailed to a cross of wood for a few minutes.


The actual linen cover is finely woven, brilliant red-orange. At first I would have described the book's cover as 'orange' but the introduction of a Sainsbury's plastic bag gently disabused me of this notion. Hence the choice of colour of this text I'm typing.


Why introduce a Sainsbury's plastic bag into this text? Well, what do you think that is strewn about the ground in Tile Hill wood? Once, it might have been fallen leaves, I grant you. But in this Attenborough-enlightened age it's got to be shreds of plastic. If the very ocean floors are covered with the stuff, what chance Tile Hill?


The Amazon worker's pen has not fouled the orange linen, I am pleased to say. Or at least so marginally that I have to look from a certain angle to see the desecrating lines. So far I have spent about as long looking for these blemishes as I have looking at the substantive content of the book. But, as I say, perfection is not something one should be looking for. 99% is always going to be good enough for me.


I was concerned about being ignored in this important publication, the mid-career retrospective of George Shaw. But on page 330 of its 345 pages it says: ’The most detailed commentary on Shaw’s work is to be found in Duncan McLaren’s online publication, 'George Shaw’s Tile Hill: An Unofficial Guide', which is full of fascinating reflections on the artist’s paintings, and - thanks to much detective work using Google Maps - packed with information about the locations that Shaw has painted. See (accessed 10 May 2018).’ Obviously the printing of the long url link appears clumsy. But that's what happens when virtual and paper worlds collide!

The author of the main text is Mark Hallett, Director of Studies at the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art, London. He has interviewed George on several occasions over 2017 and 2018 and their discussions will allow me to plug a few gaps in my own narrative. (I am going to add updates where required to the end of each of my essays as well as write the new ones that will follow this page.) On the basis of what I’ve read so far, one day into the ownership of this volume, I'd say Hallett has done a very good job in overviewing the phases of Shaw's career and pin-pointing the artist's concerns.

In addition to the 12 chapters of the main catalogue essay, there are five essays by (as described on the back flap of the book) 'an independent art historian and curator', a 'Professor of Art History', a 'Reader in Photography', another 'Professor of Art History' and Jeremy Deller. I will read these with interest. A cursory glance suggests that my own approach has not been duplicated. No need for me to ditch this website then? I like to think there is still a place in the world for it.