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Lola Loves… David Shrigley

David Shrigley
Brain Activity
Hayward Gallery, London
1 Feb-13 May 2012

Before the weekend, I told you that I was going to the David Shrigley exhibition at the Hayward Gallery and I’ve been looking forward to telling you all about it. Firstly I must say ‘sorry, folks’ — I went on the last day, so this is a retrospective review, not a call to go and see it but there’s always other exhibitions, his books and online to check out.

I love Shrigley for his laugh-out-loud art, which delivers visual puns and more than a hint of a dark, maladjusted world.

He is most known for his comical stick men drawings and quippy text. Trained as a fine artist, Shrigley dismissed  perfection to make rough, amateur line drawings. It seems an odd choice but not when you consider his aim to make light  of strange situations. His  jokes just couldn’t be delivered  in the same way with fine art as a medium.

Shrigley not only produces a character on the page but also above it — he creates the persona of the artist, not himself but a weird and disarming character who even Shrigley says he wouldn’t want to meet. I imagine the strange boy at school who everyone is fascinated by but far too scared to go near. The viewer is brought into the ‘artists’ world and  can immediately see things are off kilter.

If you enjoy his drawings I recommend his books, which always bring a chuckle. But the exhibition delivers more. His taxidermy animals probably pack the most impact.

A stuffed headless ostrich stands proud – (where is the head, in the metaphoric sand?) A decapitated squirrel holds his head like a nut. A stuffed Jack Russell holds a sign saying ‘I’m dead’.

Shrigley has a similar sculpture, a stuffed cat holding the same sign. When I first saw it (in a gallery setting), I laughed out loud at the absurdity of it. But try explaining the joke (try explaining any of his jokes) and it’ll fall flat. In this case, I was quite surprised that I’d laughed at a dead, stuffed animal – especially as it was so cute, but that’s what his work does. It pulls you into something a bit dark and twisted, and you become a part of it.

Once you’ve seen his work, you’ll notice the ‘Shrigley effect’ all around you. For example, the Ed Monkon greetings cards, I’m also convinced his style has influenced a number of illustrator friends. If you’ve not already fallen in love with Shrigley, give him a try – I guarantee it’s worth the giggle.

P.S. Not one to slack off from crafting, I bought these Shrigley plectrums from the gift shop. I’m thinking with a bit of trickery, one will be a brooch, the other a pendant a la Tatty Devine. 


Lola loves… Sublime Stitching

Sublime Stitching: Cover

Sublime Stitching: Cover

Sublime Stitching:
Hundreds of Hip Embroideries and How-to
By jenny Hart (Chronicle Books)

Seeing as I heart Sublime Stitching so much and embroider quite a lot of their patterns, I thought it was about time I reviewed one of their books.

If you’re not familiar with Sublime Stitching, get Googling quick! The head honcho, Jenny Hart is an inspirational crafter and luckily for fans she produces a large range of iron-on embroidery designs so everyone can have a go.

When I  embroidering as a kid I was disappointed by the choice available. It was all fruit bowls and stuffy still lifes of flowers. Bore. Jenny’s motto is; ‘this ain’t your grandma’s embroidery’ and the phrase pretty much nails it. Jenny is one of the people who has modernised craft – embroidery in particular – and made it fun, accessible and meaningful to a new generation. (If that isn’t worth a Google search, what is?)

The Book:
Each sheet in this book has a number of designs (often larger or smaller versions of the same image so you can choose your size). Each sheet of images is protected by another page so the designs don’t transfer onto each other.

You simply cut out the image and iron on — but don’t take my word for it, the book has full instructions including lessons on a range of stitches such as feather, chain and satin. For the beginner, these instructions are great — they’re clear but not patronising and Jenny’s style of writing is always fun and welcoming.

The spiral binding makes it easy to use and there are useful pockets at the front and back to store the designs once you’ve cut them out  to use them. (The only annoyance is there are so many they won’t all fit).

Reading other reviews, some people were disappointed by what they thought was a lack of new designs. It’s true that Jenny has produced many similar books and if you already have one or two you’re likely to see familiar images, but in my view there is enough to keep me busy and happy for a long time.

If you do want something a bit different, try the individual kits sold on the Sublime Stitching webiste. I bought the wedding kit to embroider this ‘love blanket’ and they also do great designs by Ryan Berkley, The Black Apple and artist and skater, Michael Sieben. You can also chose from tattoo designs, robots, 50’s pin-up sirens, zombies or sugar skulls. (Argh, craft project overload!)

The designs in the book are varied but many fit into a theme: animals; flowers; children and babies; food; tea parties. My favourites however, are the tattoo style birds (which you will see a lot of on my blog) and the cocktails (how couldn’t they be!)

Here’s an example of the bird and a rose, which I sewed onto a babygrow. I’ve also sewn Jenny’s cat designs on other babygrows; the bird onto a fabric envelope and lots more designs onto an embroidered patchwork baby blanket, which I will post on soon!


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