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Noodles with Worries
by Chris Ellis on Oct 12, 2007
Our city is filled with oddities. The varied people and places, the strange and beautiful alike, are all what make San Francisco unlike any other city in the world. Scotland-based artist David Shrigley has a made a career out of finding the beauty in this kind of dichotomy. His writing and drawings do not focus on any one subject matter but on people and situations that are oft overlooked or ignored. His latest work, Worried Noodles, is a songbook thatís being re-released but this time with music. Shrigley has many admirers in the music world, all of whom came together to help make this a truly unique compilation. SF Station spoke with him to find out what heís been up to.
SF Station (SFS): Did you ever think Worried Noodles would become an actual album?
David Shrigley (DS): At the time I was writing the original songbook I had no intention of the songs ever being performed. I suppose the idea was that it was a kind of imaginary album.
Perhaps it was inevitable, given that it was a record company that published the original piece, that it would give rise to a musical release. Even imagining that the label would want to do this, I still think itís amazing that the project has become so huge.
SFS: Which are your favorite tracks?
DS: Itís pretty hard to choose favourites as I think they are all great. I think the one that makes me laugh the most is "Prince of Wales" by Simon Bookish. His voice really cracks me up.
SFS: Do you think your work more often simplifies life for the viewer or makes it more complicated?
DS: I try to say very complicated things in a very simple way, so I suppose Iím complicating life for people but Iím doing it efficiently.
SFS: If a university approached you about teaching a class, any class, what would you teach?
DS: Gym. With girls.
SFS: Have you ever overheard people criticizing your work? If so, what has been your reaction?
DS: I canít recall ever overhearing any criticism. People usually deliver their criticism to my face or they have it published in magazines and newspapers. I get upset when people say my work is rubbish, though sometimes I enjoy it when people get really angry about what I do and how terrible they think it is. If you canít make people happy then you might as well piss them off.
SFS: What are some of your favorite films?
DS: One of my favourites of recent years is The Big Lebowski. Itís a movie that I can watch over and over again. I spent some time in L.A. a few years ago (I didnít like it) and for me it seems to sum up what a peculiar place it is.
SFS: Have you ever thought about making animations with your sculptures?
DS: Curiously, I have. I havenít quite settled on my idea, but Iíve been speaking with an animator recently. Strange you should askÖ
SFS: There are a couple of Worried Noodles concerts coming up where you'll be showing some of your animations, will they be new animations from the song book? Have you ever showed your films in this way?
DS: Iíve probably done about 12 black and white animations over the past few years and weíre going to show them in a cinema as part of the launch event. I made 3 new ones this year. They are all very short and stupid. My films have been shown in all sorts of contexts, so showing them with bands isnít really anything new. I showed a film at a concert by The Books a couple of years ago in Berlin.
SFS: Do you think there is a strong underground comic scene where you live?
DS: I come from a fine art background so Iíve never really been closely involved with other people who make comics. Where I live in Glasgow the art scene and the music scene and the comics scene are all pretty overlapped. The most interesting graphic artists are involved in art and music and probably would want to resist being categorized as part of a comics scene, though it perhaps has a lot to do with Glasgow being quite a small city where everybody knows each other.
SFS: In what medium do you feel most constrained? Most liberated?
DS: It varies. Drawing is at the centre of what I do, but I find I canít do it all the time or I get bored. This last week I have been making some sculpture and next week Iíll make some painting and perhaps after that Iíll take some photos.
Once the weather gets cold Iíll stay at home and do drawings.
SFS: Can you tell me more about your past exhibition -- "Under God's Hammer: William Blake versus David Shrigley" at Art Gallery of Western Australia, Perth? Was wondering if drawings from Blake were placed along side your own? Do you feel your work is connected to Blake's work, if so, in what way?
DS: The gallery in question owned a series of 23 Blake etchings illustrating the Book of Job. They suggested I make 23 drawings as a companion piece for the exhibition. To be honest I have never been a scholar of Blake and really only know his writing, but his themes of religion and the metaphysical are very close to my own so it was a fun project to work on. Also, being in a 2-person show with William Blake looks pretty impressive on your resume.
SFS: People mention that seeing an opening where youíre attending is like a performance; is there an element of interactivity at your openings?
DS: I donít know who told you that. It certainly isnít something I have ever been aware ofÖthough I did have a bit too much to drink at my last opening so parts of the evening are a little hazy in my memory.
SFS: I see that Park Life here in SF has a shirt of yours in stock. How did you get connected with them?
DS: I wish there was a more interesting story butÖthey sent me an e-mail.
I was in SF back in February but that was prior to getting in touch with Park Life. We were tourists for a few days on a stop-off on the way to New Zealand to visit my sister. We saw Alcatraz, the sea lions, the bridge, went to on the cable car. I like SF. Itís so much nicer than LA.
SFS: It also looks like there are still copies of the original Worried Noodles songbook at Park Life.
DS: Buy them all. Itís not getting re-printed.
Worried Noodles will be released on October 23rd on Tomlab Records.
by Chris Ellis on Oct 12, 2007