ANIMATE: David Shrigley
David Shrigley
10 Jun – 4 Sep 2011

The summer exhibition in the Animate series presents work by David Shrigley (b. 1968) from Glasgow. Shrigley is a visual artist who works with drawing, sculpture and texts on themes that reflect everyday life. He has had numerous exhibitions, but has also created public artworks. Comics is also a medium close to Shrigley's heart. Given the possibility to add music to a combination of narrativity and insight, it is only natural that the artist who considers drawing a tool for thinking decided to start making animations a few years ago. The people and objects in Shrigley's art are easily recognisable, although the world he creates is not always quite compatible with reality. Shrigley's pieces are humoristic, sometimes snappish, yet they often contain candid truths. The works arise from the artist's curiosity. The question seems to hover in the air: What if...? Studio at the Turku Art Museum presents a selection of David Shrigley's hand-drawn black-and-white animations from the past few years. The total duration of the films is just under half an hour.

In Laundry (2006, 2:44 min) a man takes a horse to a laundry and turns on the washer – with the horse inside! The dialogue in the laundry is brusque, both sides are convinced of their own truth. The march music in New Friends (2006, 1:20 min) creates a sober and dignified mood. Everyone in the marching line is identical, until the inevitable happens. The new friends and the merry mood may be a surprise for the viewer, yet no one is allowed to stand out. In The Door (2007, 3:07 min), Robert wants to know how he came to the world. His father answers the questions patiently, but the tapping foot reveals his embarrassment. In a dream, Robert finds a door and gets a surprise.

In addition to humorous dialogue, Shrigley uses familiar situations and repetition in his work. Light Switch (2007, 1:28 min) shows how things are, or could the hand pressing the switch actually be faster?  Shrigley's fast-paced pieces are coutnerbalanced by the slightly longer animation Sleep (2008, 8:01 min), where the gestures are small, the breathing heavy, and the brow occasionally wrinkles. The same sleepy and slightly uneasy mood is picked up in Conveyor belt (2008, 3:07 min). On a moving conveyor belt, we see a bone, a coat rack, a burning candle, a family of stick figures, a tooth passing by... Where are all these things going? And of course we find out! Next comes an obsession. A hand shakes a dice and drops it on the table. The dice should come up a one. Ones (2009, 3:09 min) makes that possible. In The Letter (2010, 2:04 min) we once more follow the movements of a hand. This time it is writing a letter that begins "Dear Mrs Teacher"... The pen and its movements on the paper are riveting.  


The Animate exhibition series is part of the Turku 2011 European Capital of Culture Programme. It explores the role of animation as an independent contemporary art form and as part of the visual arts. Animate is a collaboration project between the Turku Art Museum, the Pori Art Museum and the Turku University of Applied Sciences/Animation programme.


10 questions to David Shrigley

1. Could you tell how you usually start planning new art works and how the work proceeds?
When I make animation I have an idea in the first place. Then I do a series of drawings and figure out exactly wheat will happen. Usually I then make the soundtrack, often in a sound studio with a sound engineer. Then I send all the stuff to the animator and he starts animating. He uploads the work in progress every day or two and we speak about it on the phone. The animating can take some time, but it's nice to work slowly as I can think carefully and make considered decisions. In that respect it is the opposite of the drawings that I make, that are done very quickly.

2. With which themes have you worked on for the works showed in the Darkroom?
3. Why are these subjects important to you?
4. Have you worked for a long time with these subjects?  

I don't really work with considered themes in terms of content as such. I guess I'm just drawn to cer-tain ideas, but not in a conscious way.
One thing that I've realised over the 12 years or so that I've been making animation is that I'm very interested in narrative: I guess I'm interested in very distilled narrative; giving the viewer as little in-formation as possible in order to create a story. I like to be economic with my story-telling.

5. Could you tell about the technique you have used for the art works in this exhibition?
All the work is made using Flash. I work with an animator called James Newport. I've worked with a few different animators over the years but James is the person who I always go back to. Animators tend to often try to do a bit too much, but I like working with James because he does things in a very simple way. We've made about 14 films together, so I guess his style has become my style, if you know what I mean.

6. Is this technique typical for your working?  
I guess I've found a way of making films that works for me. It's quite simple and I work with people who I like and who understand what I want.
Long may it continue.

7. What does animation mean to you?

Animation is the opportunity to tell a story in a different way from drawing.

8. What does this exhibition at Turku Art Museum mean to you?  

I've never actually been to Finland, so it's a nice opportunity to see a different place and meet some different people.

9. Which other art fields are close to you and why?  
Whilst I am probably best known as a cartoonist, I seem to be developing a reputation as an artist who works in all media; drawing, painting, sculpture, printmaking, animation, video, performance, music, writing, etc. This isn't a conscious decision. I just get asked to do things and I often say yes.

10. Could you tell about your future plans?

I'm writing an opera in collaboration with a classical composer that will be performed in Glasgow in November.

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