I Belong To Glasgow: David Shrigley

I Belong To Glasgow: David Shrigley

Artist David Shrigley on Glasgow’s magnificent music scene, and the appeal of small tunnels

I moved to Glasgow as a teenager, and I’ve lived here more than half my life now. I don’t consider Leicester, where I’m originally from, as home anymore. Glasgow is my home.

There’s always so much going on in Glasgow. You can go to really good art openings or gigs two or three times a week, easily. I don’t know much about Edinburgh’s visual arts scene, but it definitely seems like there’s more of a young artist community here. It’s seems quite warm; less cliquey maybe?

Places like the Modern Institute, Mary Mary and Sorcha Dallas have brought about a real sea change in the city. They’ve changed the aspirations of local artists; shown them new possibilities. It’s a really self-supporting scene – for me, my closest friends are artists and you always want to go along and support people you like.

For a while my social life was very much centred around the visual arts scene. But now, it’s almost exclusively geared around music. I got bored of going to openings, and I’d rather go see bands, or record launches. Monorail record shop is like a little magnet that draws me into town.

Glasgow’s lucky to have lots of really good non-profit music collectives like Nuts & Seeds and Cry Parrot. They’ve put on really great bands recently like The Ex with Brass Unbound at the CCA. That was a great night. Collectives like that are a real antidote to really mercenary, mean music producers. These people aren’t in it to make money; they just want to put on good music. It makes the cultural fabric of Glasgow really rich. I also love Gummy Stumps, Frog Pocket and a new band called Muscles of Joy, who’ve only played a handful of gigs.

If I’m going out to eat, Brutti Ma Buoni, the café at the Brunswick Hotel, has a nice atmosphere. I like how they walk the line between ‘foody’ food and greasy spoon. You could have an egg roll, with a glass of prosecco if you wanted. I like upstairs at Café Gandolfi – if I’m feeling a bit extravagant, I’ll go there for black pudding. In the West End, where I live, I like Stravaigin or Indian takeaway from Balbir’s.

I fall in and out of love with bars. I love the wine at the Ubiquitous Chip. I also love The Belle on Great Western Road, and The Doublet on Park Road. I’ll go there on the way home from a Partick Thistle match. The atmosphere at football matches is always really funny – it’s a bit like an episode of Still Game. I think men of a certain age use it like weekly shout therapy. Their response to the game is completely disproportionate – they just hurl abuse at their own team. Then they go home and hug their wife.

A lot of people still think of Glasgow as some kind of semi-derelict slum, with 60s tower blocks. It depends where you go. The Art School building is just extraordinarily beautiful. And I love going round to someone’s house in the West End and finding some amazing mosaic floor, or original fireplace. There’s not another city like it in the UK.

Lastly, I love the subway in Glasgow. It’s like a children’s train. I’ve been on the platform with friends not from here, and they’re like, ‘Why is the tunnel so small?’ I try and tell them it was built at a time when human beings were a lot smaller than they are now.

An installation of David Shrigley’s sculptures will be at Kelvingrove Museum from Fri 16 April as part of Glasgow International Festival, www.glasgowinternational.org

What the Hell Are You Doing: The Essential David Shrigley, an anthology of Shrigley’s work will be published by Canongate in September.


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