The Big Match

by Brian 'Braaq' Shields


MEDIUM: Pastel
SIGNATURE:  Signed ‘Braaq’ (lower right)
DIMENSIONS: (framed) 10 x 12 inches (20 x 38.48 cm)

Like with the majority of his oeuvre, in ‘The Big Match’ Shields has created a very atmospheric work, depicting the somewhat bleak weather on a typical weekend afternoon in Northern England. The low horizon line allows the heavy, polluted skies and industrial fog to dominate the scene of a football match, which would normally take centre stage and yet here takes up less than half the image. The void of empty space created by the oppressive sky and the bright green pitch in the foreground mean that all of the action unfolds along the horizontal of the painting, distorting any sense of natural perspective, a technique which Braaq used often.

The somewhat simplistic and highly stylised method Shields has employed to paint the characters in his scene is reminiscent of the caricatures created by Laurence Stephen Lowry. Interestingly, the Liverpool Echo went so far as to name Shields the “Liverpool Lowry”.

Private collection, UK

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Brian Shields was a British artist, born in Liverpool in 1951 and is best known for his scenes of northern Britain.  His paintings are based on childhood memories of Liverpool and he would frequently paint himself into his works as a boy in a striped jumper and wellies.  Shields acquired his nickname ‘Braaq’ at school due to his early artistic talent and was the result of a misspelling of the French artist and father of Cubism, Georges Braque.

The fourth child of twelve, Brian’s father Dennis Shields was an established artist and one of his brothers, also Dennis, is a sculptor and painter. In the late 1970s, Brian’s sister Ann died aged 20 and in memory of her his subsequent paintings were signed with his signature followed by Ann.


After initially training as a chef in Harrogate, the majority of Brian’s working life spent there.  He was discovered when his murals in the hotel he was working in caused a stir in the community and for weeks afterward there was a search in the local papers to find the identity of the artist.  From this point on his artistic career flourished with his first exhibition in 1974.  In 1977 Brian was invited to hold four exhibitions in London and was described by The Times as “one of the six most successful artists in England”.


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