Thursday, December 18, 2014

A shrig day out

Hey internet friend, sorry I've neglected you for a couple of weeks; my laptop fell into a coma. I'm happy to report though that this afternoon I picked him up from computer hospital and he's much better now, unfortunately he's suffered a mild case of amnesia but other than that he's doing good and back where he belongs; sitting atop my lap. 

So alright, what should I write about first? Well ok, the other day someone named Billy bought a couple of my sculptures and just for fun I decided that as well as send Billy the sculptures I would also send him a drawing of someone else named Billy, I went with the actor Billy Zane.
A zany drawing for Billy of Billy Zane. 21 x 29cm. Acrylic on 225gsm paper. 2014.

The drawing makes Zane's bow-tie kind of look like mistletoe, I should've coloured it in green. Ha, actually maybe that could be a hot new festive fashion item; the mistletoe. Perfect for getting one of those Spiderman upside down kisses.

But anyway as you can see the drawing didn't turn out too crash hot, in fact the drawing was such an icy shipwreck that normally I would never show it to anyone; the reason I have shown it to you though is that making this drawing just happened to be what I was doing at the exact moment I was invited by the website Three Thousand to interview the artist David Shrigley, (to promote the lead up to Shrigley simultaneously releasing a new book and opening a solo exhibition at the National Gallery of Victoria)Amazing. 

I can't remember when I first got into David Shrigley, I don't think I knew about him when I was in high school so it must've been when I was in TAFE, maybe second year, probably first year, (which very scarily was seven years ago). I'm pretty sure the first time I heard of him was when one of my tutors described a drawing I'd done as Shrigley-esque. I didn't like that one bit; I didn't want to be anyone-esque. So much so that there was a time where for ages I went out of my way to deliberately not look at Shrigley's work because I didn't want any chance of being influenced by it, which in hind site is pretty silly but that's the kind of numbskull I was seven years ago. 

And of course I'm no Shrigley; he's good and I suck. 

Ha, also Shrigley's humour is mostly much darker, more absurdist and more detached than the kind of thing I do, and also I hate the way he writes the letter G. But still, there's obviously a little bit of him in me. There's a little bit of a lot of people in me. I think that's just how it works. I always remember hearing Bruce Springsteen say that he wanted to write like Dylan, sound like Orbison and move like Elvis. And obviously he could never do any of those things as well as those people, but in that pursuit he found his own voice and became his own thing. He became The Boss. But wait, hold on, I'm not sure what I'm even trying to say here; I'm Bruce Springsteen? Yeah I think that's it, I'm Bruce Springsteen. But also, I love Shrigley, for ages I even wanted to go to Glasgow just to meet him, and now here I was about to interview him.

I'd actually already met Shrigley once before, earlier this year back in March. It was the day of the preview opening to the NEW14 exhibition at ACCA. I'd just finished doing an interview thing on the excellent Triple R radio show Smart Arts and as I raced back into the gallery to do the final touches of my install I saw a sight that to me seemed as surreal as a melting clock; there was David Shrigley looking at my work and smiling. 

We only spoke for a few minutes, he told me about how he'd just won a 2016 commission to make a ten meter tall sculpture of a thumbs up on the Trafalgar Square plinth in London. I said "A ten meter tall thumbs up?! You wouldn't want to get in a thumb war with that!" After that we talked about my work for a bit, he said some nice things and finally as he was leaving he said "break a leg". I pretended to misstep and fell onto the ground and he sighed "I didn't mean literally." And that was it, I was nervous and dorkishly enthusastic and Shrigley was cool and perfectly deadpan. It was great. 

Here's a photo of us that was taken in front of my drawings by NEW14 curator Kyla McFarlane, as you can see he's larger than life both in his work and in his height.
The day I heard I was doing the interview was the same day Shrigley's new book came out, so I bought it and read it cover to cover. I was hoping to get Shrigley to sign the book but then I decided what might be even better is if I made a sculpture of it and asked him to sign that. 

I had a week to prepare for the interview and in that time I did write down a few questions I wanted to ask but mostly I spent my free time making the sculpture. It was the tightest of schedules though; sculpting it, drying it, getting it fired, glazing and painting it, if I'd had one day less I don't think it would've been possible. What I really need is my own TV show, that way I could just get a props department to make all my art for me.

As well as the book I decided I also wanted to make Shrigley a gift. I knew that he collects rulers so I made a sculpture of one of them. I figured he'd have lots of rulers that are 30cm so I made mine 31cm.
31cm ruler (A gift to David Shrigley). Acrylic on kiln fired ceramic. 2014.

And naturally on the back of the ruler I wrote the words "You rule".

And he did rule; like a boss, like a Bruce Springsteen. We talked for 35 minutes or so and it flew by. Amazingly he remembered me and my work and said nice things like "I don't usually tell journalists this but you're an artist and I think you get it..." He probably says that to everyone but I was still pretty chuffed about it.

Here's a couple of photos from the interview taken by my best bud Cherie.

And hooray, here he is signing my sculpture of his book.
He seemed to really like it and after signing it he was really funny and said "I feel really bad now, I think I've just ruined your sculpture". Shrigley's signature is just his name in capital letters, (for all you forgers out there), and so he wrote his name directly underneath where I'd already painted it. 
After that I offered Shrigley the ruler sculpture. He was probably just being nice but he was so generous with praise and said "Wow, this is definitely my favourite ruler in my collection!". Here he is posing with it.

And a couple of days later he even posted it on instagram. 

The other thing I showed Shrigley that he seemed to respond really well to was my alternate title for his new book. 

Sure his WEAK MESSAGES CREATE BAD SITUATIONS is a good title, but I think my suggestion better implies that his book might have a happy ending;
The next amazing thing that happened was that after my interview for Three Thousand I was asked if the next day I could do another interview with Shrigley for Vogue Living online. How incredible is that?! Ha, when you think of Vogue you think of me, right? 

Versace, Gucci, Prada, Pittock.

I mean after all, I did just invent the mistle-tie.

The Vogue Living interview was on the morning of the NGV opening. It's funny how it worked out; I'd first seen Shrigley on the morning of my ACCA opening and now I was seeing him again on the morning of his NGV one. I told him to break a leg, he didn't fall on the ground like I had. He did show me a secret little hand signal thing though and said "If you see me do this to you at the opening tonight it means I need rescuing", and later that night he actually did do the thing which was pretty great.

I've got dozens of high quality photos from the Vogue Living interview but I don't think I can legally put them on this blog, I think Vogue owns them, however here's some photos that my studio pal Alanna took for me on the day.

If you've read the interviews I should also point out that I did ask Shrigley slightly less frivolous questions that went into more detail about his practise and influences, (and also how he feels upon hearing other artists being referred to as Shrigley-esque), but the art questions were more for me and for the articles I used the more fun stuff that I hoped would better interest readers of Three Thousand or Vogue Living. If you're reading this though then you'd probably be interested in the other stuff too, so maybe sometime next year I'll post the unused David Shrigley interview questions and answers on this blog just for you.  

But yeah, interviewing David Shrigley, what a dream, let me take a second to say thanks so much to everyone who helped make it happen; Sarah Werkmeister, Annemarie Kiely, Abi Crompton, Sarah Hook, Cherie Peele, Alanna Lorenzon, Elizabeth Alexander, Three Thousand, Vogue Living, the NGV, and of course my new BFF David Shrigley. 

I could probably end todays blog post there but I haven't written here in a little while so I might mention a couple more things real quick. In non-Shrigley related news, a day or two after the Shrigley interviews my mate Alex and I ran the City2sea race. 

Here's a photo from 6.30am as we were on our way to the race, eating bacon and egg mcmuffin meals.
Despite the freezing winds and relentless rain here we are 15km's later running a muck and running across the finish line. 

Tramps like us, baby we were born to run.
You're probably thinking "So you ran 15km? Shrig deal, what do you want, a medal?" 

And if you are thinking that then thanks so much for your concern but please you really don't need to get me a medal; the race people already gave me one.

In addition to a medal the race people also gave me this big box of bananas.

And also the worlds tiniest jar of mustard, which when I got home from the race I realised was the perfect sized condiment for my sculptures of cocktail franks, (the worlds tiniest hot dogs), as seen here in this photo in which I felt a little too tired to be having my picture taken.
But this all getting a little too saucy so I'll move along to the last thing I wanted to talk about today which is a text message I got yesterday from my buddy Georgina. 

The message said "Dude! Did you do this or did someone steal your work?!" and it had this photo attached.
Ha, so yeah, obviously I very much appreciate my gal G looking out for me but thankfully the answer to her question is yes, I did do that. 

The day after I won the running race I was invited to paint onto the front window of one of my very favourite shops in the world; Third Drawer Down. The image they specifically asked for was this painting I did last year at a time when I was feeling particularly like a sook.

Acrylic on 225gsm paper. 21 x 29cm. 2013.

Painting a window is fun, it's a bigger scale than I'm used to; you get to use your whole arm and shoulder instead of just your wrist and elbow. Also, I painted it from the inside which meant I had to paint everything backwards, which is why when I did the backwards painting I made sure to wear my cap backwards, (as seen here in this photo of me about to tongue kiss a giant duck).
Even my little signature was painted backwards.

Afterwards I turned the cap around and here I am in front of the finished window, eating delicious cantaloupe with a tiny plastic fork.

And here I am with the wonderful Abi, who made the whole thing possible!

The window (and the brilliant shop attached to it) can be found at 155 Greville Street in Prahran, so if you're in the area please visit Third Drawer Down for some Christmas shopping and while you're there maybe take a moment to reflect in my window.

And so yeah, it was a pretty action packed week, in the space of like five days I was introduced to people as a "freelance reporter", an "athlete" and a "window painter". I laughed when I heard each of them but now that I think about it they're all much cooler titles than "artist".

Anyway I think I've bored you long enough for today, thank you so much for reading, I really appreciate it. See you soon and in the meantime and I ho-ho-hope your December is full of family, friends, happiness, kindness, Bruce Springsteen and bow-ties that look mistletoe.


  1. You directed me here because I sent you a nice-ish comment via eBay. I find your humour consistently amusing. Well done on being an amusing person. 😆

    1. Dear onymous, or can I call you Ann? (Ha, I'm 99 percent certain that by saying that I've made you realise that I'm actually not very amusing at all.) Thanks so much for both of your very, very nice-ish comments, they made my day, and I've even written about them in the following blog post. I hope you managed to get a new phone and I hope this isn't the last I hear from you, all the best, your pal, Kenny Pitto.

  2. Hi Kenny! Love your blog!

    I'm curious about your preference for bacon and egg mcmuffins. I think sausage and egg ones are all the rage!

    Eggerly awaiting your reply.

    1. Hi Anonymous! Love your comment!

      I'm curious about your preference for sausage and egg mcmuffins. I think bacon and egg ones are all the rage!

      But I'm all about egguality so I'll happily take either, whether it's bacon or sausages, just so long as it's got one of them and an egg, then muffin else matters.