Stephen Shaw Belfast Artist
Shankill Library 2015

About Me

I'm a professional artist with studios based at my home and in Belfast's Cathedral Quarter, concentrating on the beautiful, but difficult, medium of Watercolour. Attempting to "push the boundaries" of how the medium is perceived and appears. Everthing you see is 100% watercolour paint, made with brushes, I do not mix media.

The paintings are alive with colour and detail and focus on that which could generally perceived as drab, decaying, mundane, or overlooked. I rarely paint well known landmarks or tourist attractions. This is not "Olde Belfast". I have stood before and recorded everything I've ever painted. Things change and become "old", or memories, with time - and as they, for many reasons, disappear.

Although important elements, the work is not an exercise in nostalgia or historic documentation, but also, hopefully, a fresh way of looking at “everyday” places. Nothing is “normal”, everything is unique. Something of interest and beauty can be found almost anywhere. I see semi abstract compositions in the places that attract me and these are the basis of many of the paintings.

An underlying theme is the effects of nature and decay on the built fabric of Belfast, Ireland, and Beyond. How age, neglect, vandalism and natural weathering have rendered once pristine surfaces into multi coloured and textured semi abstract artworks in themselves. Time and the Elements of Nature becoming its own Artist.

Alienation, confrontation, provocation, memories and legacies of "The Troubles" in Northern Ireland are present in the work. The effects of the destruction and redevelopment of Communities and Neighbourhoods in Belfast are also major influences.

And sometimes I will make a painting of somewhere I have seen and liked, just because I want to... Often, hopefully (?) including a subtle sense of humour to the work.

I've had many successful solo Exhibitions, most notably in Red Barn Gallery, Belfast, in February 2012, where a 30+ year "retrospective" of my work based in the Shankill area of Belfast was received with both critical acclaim and commercial success. I've also held solo Exhibitions in distinguished local venues such as the Linen Hall Library and The Ulster Hall in central Belfast. Work has also been included in many prestigious Group Exhibitions and is available in several local Art Galleries.

Please read my CV page for further details.

The work has been the recipient of two Awards, "Best Watercolour" at Royal Ulster Academy, 2010 and "Best Townscape" at Ulster Watercolour Society, 2011.


"Watercolourist Stephen Shaw is 'a forensic chronicler' of Belfast" - John Gray, Culture Northern Ireland

"Since the 1980s Shaw has produced watercolour paintings addressing themes of urban decay and neglect, mainly of marginalised and desolate areas of Belfast.
On one hand, there is a permanent sense of isolation and abandonment from these works, which hint at the lack of commitment and investment in the aftermath of urban violence and territorial insecurities. On the other hand, the work acknowledges the qualities of painterly abstraction inherent in the dilapidation and dereliction of disregarded uninhabited places of the city.
Noted for his highly detailed and forensic approach of depicting local urban subject matter. Shaw’s work lies at the edge of traditional watercolour painting. He is a colourist with a painstaking eye for detail with the ability to render a view before him with atmosphere and depth.
His paintings have an undiluted acidic realism, which tell a tale of the public authority neglect in the face of overwhelming hardship. A story of inner city decline, accelerated by recession and public expenditure cuts deliberate and systematic under the guise of redevelopment by the Northern Ireland Office as a means of solving sectarian strife in Belfast.
Shaw’s watercolours paintings are thus a kind of sociological study of the effects of economic impoverishment, an exploration of the psycho - urban geography of areas within the city that has been waiting for decades to be regenerated."

Brendan O'Neill. QSS Gallery , Belfast




PLEASE NOTE: The sizes quoted are that of the actual artwork. The dimensions can be sometimes twice these after the painting has been mounted and framed. Paintings can be sold unframed to facilitate postage and packing, if required. Please email for details. Prices do not include P&P.

Artworks can be delivered to your door, Free of Charge, within Northern Ireland.

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