Satirical British artist David Shrigley recently opened a solo exhibition at Manchester’s Cornerhouse called ‘How are you feeling?’ The exhibition features an entire floor devoted to his drawings, several sculptures, a new animation and even ‘napping stations’ for the tired patron. I sat down with the artist to discuss his new self-help book which was published in tandem with the exhibition to learn more about his comical, often poignantly so, approach to therapy.
Carol Huston: I’ve just finished reading your latest book, HOW ARE YOU FEELING? What inspired your approach to DIY self-help?
David Shrigley: The book had to have criteria for it, because publishers like that kind of thing. They like books to be about something. With that in mind, I had a think about my work and what kind of ideas are there anyway. I did a big group of drawings – about a hundred drawings – around that theme. I decided to write about 10,000 words of advice, just really scatological things surrounding the idea of self-help. If you call something a self-help book it becomes a self-help book because you’ve said that’s what it is. So that’s the strategy I’m using and it seems to be working.
CH: Does that apply to real self-help books?
DS: My perusing self-help books in bookshops in the airport, written for publishing reasons not for self-help reasons. People seem to invent phenomena to write about. They identify phenomena that doesn’t really exist and they write about it. They perceive problems; it’s kind of an interesting phenomena. Not that I’m against therapy, quite the opposite. I think serious therapy is painful. But there are too many self-help books and a lot of them were written because somebody wanted to write a self-help book, not because they wanted to help anybody. You could probably apply that to my self-help book. I’m not claiming it’s really going to help anyone.
CH: What’s coming up next for you?
DS: After this interview? Another interview! Oh, just the usual. I am making a show in New York, which will be the sixth time I’ve shown at that gallery. It’s very much what I do; I make art and show it. I make exhibitions. That’s for January. I don’t actually have anything planned beyond January. I’ve been doing a bit of writing with a friend of mine, writing a script for a short narrative
film. It’s kind of an experiment. It’s not like anybody’s given us any money to make it. That’s something that I’ve been doing off and on. I’m collaborating with a friend who’s a screenwriter. It’s not going to be an animated film. We’re writing it together with the idea that she’ll do the structural things and I’ll supply the characters.