Shrigley’s Squiggles

David Shrigley is famous for his simple, annotated drawings. Often humorous, sometimes political – they have lined a wall of the members bar at Tate Modern, have no doubt appeared on many greetings card and have been published in books.

He is currently exhibiting at the Hayward and I went to check it out last Saturday. The £10 entry fee felt rather steep – but I decided to view the exhibition before assuming it was unworthy of £10.

After wandering through Jeremy Deller’s exhibition on the ground floor, slightly confused – and disappointed that Shrigley’s work was nothing like the previous pieces I’d seen of his – I realised that Shrigley was upstairs.

The black shiny shoe sculptures, lined up on plinths, immediately caught my attention:

Starting small – and growing to disproportionately large sizes – they are reminiscent of something from a Roald Dahl novel. I’m a sucker for massive and tiny things, as well as anything Roald Dahl – so I was rather absorbed by these shoes.

I also like animations, so the switching-the-light-on-and-off animation – slowly and then faster and faster until it is rather manic – humoured me; a nod to Martin Creed’s Turner Prize winning installation ‘The Lights Going on and off’.

There was a massive cup of tea – entitled Very Large Cup of Tea – with real tea, milk and no sugar, which also delighted my interest in objects of varying, unrealistic proportions. Similarly, the tiny images that you have to duck right down to look at – appealed (to me – and to all the children who were exploring high and low in search of Shrigley’s surprises).

The taxidermy dog, squirrel and rat (hidden under a partition wall) were refreshingly shocking, when placed next to rather too many of those all-too-familiar aforementioned simple sketches. Although I did laugh-out-loud when reading a (small) handful of them.

The photographs in the first room were innovative and funny. I liked the pumpkin Barbie – an uncomplicated comment on our beauty-obsessed culture:

There are two tiny sculptures that can only be viewed through windows. With the backdrop of the Millennium Wheel behind one, and the Thames (and various skyscrapers) behind the other, the proportions – and significance of such small things in such a big world – are again questioned and there to be laughed at.

There were a few revellers walking around with the audio playing through their headphones – and they were hysterical. I don’t know if there was some kind of comedy commentary to accompany the exhibition but the art work, visually, wasn’t so funny that I was ROFL. I chuckled, mostly inwardly, a few times. But then stopped laughing when I realised there was only one floor and the exhibition was over.

I decided that as it had amused me, even delighted me momentarily (the Roald Dahl shoes) – it was a worthy exhibition to visit. But not for £10. An exhibition that size should charge an entry fee of no more than a fiver. No matter who the artist is.

Rather nice to come away smiling from art work, though. And quite rare.

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