David Shrigley was born in 1968 and grew up in the town of Macclesfield, Cheshire before moving to Glasgow to study. Nowadays, the artist lives in Brighton, but the city of Glasgow paid a huge role on his style of artistry. The artist was nominated for the Turner Prize in 2013.

Each autumn, the Spritmuseum in Stockholm holds an exhibition dedicated to one of the artists in The Absolut Art Collection, the Spritmuseum's own collection. This year, the selected artist is David Shrigley.

The work that Shrigley is exhibiting in September has been made specifically for the Spritmuseum, and is called Exhibition of Giant Inflatable Swan-things. Though the title reveals all there is to know about the work for the time being, Barnebys got the chance to sit down with Shrigley before the big opening.

David Shrigley, ‘Untitled’, 2017. Photo: davidshrigley.com David Shrigley, ‘Untitled’, 2017. Photo: davidshrigley.com

Barnebys: We’re very excited to see your solo exhibition in Stockholm. Do you have a particular relationship to Sweden? Anything from a best friend living here? Or what do you think about the Swedish art scene or Swedish culture or politics?

David Shrigley: Stockholm is one of my favourite cities. I did a residency programme here in 2009 with IASPIS and was able to stay for 3 months so I got to know it a little bit. I watched a lot of football while I was here and started to follow AIK. I still look out for their results and try to see games when I come back.

You’ve done a number of oversized installations and sculptures before, like the work Life Model II, presented earlier this year. What are your underlying reasons for this?

I think the first job of the artist making an exhibition is to fill the space. If you make big things then it’s easier to fill the space. There is a lot more to it than that of course but the manner in which the art occupies the space is very important.


David Shrigley, ‘Life Model II’, 2016. Photo: davidshrigley.com David Shrigley, ‘Life Model II’, 2016. Photo: davidshrigley.com

Your work has been described as sarcastic, sharp, playful and energetic. Where do you think this comes from – what inspires you?

It’s a difficult question. I think it’s like asking where one gets one’s personality from. I think I’m inspired by everything but that isn’t a very satisfactory answer.

Your work is incredibly versatile and over the years you've used many different mediums. Why is this?

I have worked in many different mediums perhaps because I’m not held back by craft; I don’t tend to demonstrate many craft skills so it’s easy to jump between media. Maybe if I were a really talented figurative painter, for example, then I’d find it difficult to do something in a media that I was not expert in.

David Shrigley, ‘Fight the Nonsense’, 2015. Photo:davidshrigley.com David Shrigley, ‘Fight the Nonsense’, 2015. Photo:davidshrigley.com

Do you prefer any particular media over another?

Drawing is the easiest thing for me to do. It’s economic and I get to say what I want to say very quickly.

Your new piece, created specifically for Spritmuseum, still hasn't been revealed and we’re patiently (okay, eagerly) awaiting the opening date. Is there anything regarding the work you’d like (or are able!) to share with us now?

It’s going to be interesting and it will fill the space. That’s all I can say.

David Shrigley, ‘Memorial’, 2016. Photo: davidshrigley.com David Shrigley, ‘Memorial’, 2016. Photo: davidshrigley.com

The Absolut Art Collection was initiated by Andy Warhol in 1986 and features the work of some the world’s most exciting artists which, since 1996, includes you. What is your relationship with the collection? Or with any fellow artists included in the collection?

I was asked to make a work in 1996 for which I got paid £500 as I remember. It seemed like a lot of money back then. I had no idea that I would still be talking about it now. It was just a small drawing. My knowledge of the collection has really just been informed by visiting Spritmuseum. It’s very large collection and pretty unique in terms of fine art vs marketing.

Your drawings have a kind of childish quality that I think makes your art very approachable, but at the same time, your art engages serious, sometimes political, subjects. What in your work do you think engages people?

I think that comedy is useful in communicating with people. The fact that my work is often funny helps people to engage with it. If you laugh at it then you have understood it on some level.

David Shrigley, ‘Untitled’, 2013. Photo:davidshrigley.com David Shrigley, ‘Untitled’, 2013. Photo:davidshrigley.com

Are the reactions to your art usually what you had typically anticipated?

It’s not something I really think about. I don’t read reviews or look at comments on social media, etc. I don’t find it helpful. I think you have to make work for yourself firstly; if you don’t like it then you can’t expect anyone else to.

David Shrigley’s Exhibition of Giant Inflatable Swan-things, at Spiritmuseum opens to the public on 27 October and continues until 31 March 2019.

Explore David Shrigley on Barnebys here