Cubitts in Conversation: David Shrigley OBE
From the absurdly elongated thumb he put on the Fourth Plinth to his ‘heroin’ and ‘cocaine’ salt and pepper shakers, the artwork of David Shrigley OBE has infiltrated hearts and homes across the nation. So we thought, sure, we could ask David about his oeuvre, his creative process, or his path to art world renown. Or, we could ask him a series of esoteric questions about his love for lower league football teams. Guess which one we (and by we, we mean our Nottingham Forest-supporting founder Tom Broughton) did.
TB: Do you like football?
DS: Yes, I do like football.
TB: Why do you like football?
DS: I like it because I like the sound of the net swishing as the ball goes into it.
TB: What’s your favourite football team?
DS: Nottingham Forest.
TB: Tell me about your relationship with Nottingham Forest.
DS: I’ve supported Nottingham Forest since I was nine years old. My friend Gareth supported them at the time, whereas I was really into Star Wars, and he said “Star Wars is really passe, you should take an interest in football.”
TB: Did he use the word passe at the age of nine?
DS: I’m paraphrasing, perhaps, but this was the gist of the conversation. He said maybe you should take an interest in football, it’s a more manly game. Anyway, I became interested in football at his behest and the rest is history. He decided that he supported Liverpool about a month later but I stuck with Forest, probably because they were doing quite well at the time, and I’ve supported them through thick and thin.
TB: Mainly thin.
DS: Mainly thin in recent years, yeah.
TB: Who’s your favourite player? No, I’m going to categorise. Who’s your favourite small player?
DS: In recent years, Andy Reid. In history, Archie Gemmill, obviously.
TB: And your favourite large player?
DS: Favourite tall player? John Robertson probably. Big player? Well, I always liked Viv Anderson. He’s quite a tall player.
TB: Have you met any Forest players?
DS: David Johnson once at an away game. Can’t remember which one it was.
TB: Did you have a chat?
DS: No. He was going for a slash and I was like, ‘It’s David Johnson’. But you’d never talk to a man while he’s taking a slash. That’s bad form.
TB: What other teams do you like?
DS: Well my Scottish team is Partick Thistle. I lived in Glasgow for 27 years and they were my local team, so I got into supporting them. I met a guy who ran a hedge fund, and I was talking to him about Partick Thistle, so anyway he ended up sponsoring the club just for a laugh basically as long as I did all the artwork for free, which I was obviously happy to do. I had to design the mascot, Kingsley, and I designed the logo for the shirt, which had a spelling mistake on it, which I thought was funny but nobody else did.
TB: Who do you think would win in a fight between Kingsley and Boiler Man, the West Bromwich Albion mascot who looks like a boiler?
DS: Well, obviously Kingsley would win because he’s hard and he’s from Glasgow. And also, he wouldn’t be taking it off some corporate mascot. Boiler Man isn’t going to be there after the current sponsors have gone, but Kingsley is there forever. Kingsley’s genesis will be forgotten but his character will live on.
TB: What’s the weirdest football experience you’ve had?
DS: I went to see Whitehawk win 8-1 on Saturday. They’re my local team in Brighton and they’re a non-league team who are in the eighth tier. They’re a community-based club and they have a fan base that is stridently inclusive, so it’s anti-racist, anti-sexist, anti-homophobic, no swearing, self-policing, trying to be active in the community, just trying to do positive things around football basically. Anyway, they played Three Bridges, who had their goalkeeper sent off after thirty seconds. It really could have been about 60-1, so that’s the most extraordinary one I can remember recently.
TB: Have you ever thought about becoming a hooligan?
DS: No. I’m opposed to all forms of confrontation, not just physical confrontation. I’m a lover, not a fighter. I don’t like violence, I don’t like confrontation. That’s why I like Whitehawk actually. I don’t really like Nottingham Forest a lot of the time because they fight and they’re unpleasant. I wish we could all just get on.
TB: As an internationally-renowned artist, what’s your favourite club badge?
DS: I think you know the answer to that question, Tom. There is only one.
TB: The Tricky Tree. I actually like Sheffield Wednesday’s as well. They’re playing Forest this weekend. Shall we predict the scores? My guess is 1-nil to Forest.
DS: Didn’t they beat us 4-nil last time? I’m going to say 4-nil to them because I feel that there’s some inverse, superstitious thing where if I say it’s going to be really bad then it’ll be really good. It’ll be 7-1 like it was in 1995.
Alas, they were both wrong. After a Covid-19-induced three-month delay, the game resulted in a 1-1 draw.
Cubitts × David Shrigley
David Shrigley OBE is the tenth artist to donate his work for Cubitts’ cleaning cloths. His cloths have raised over £5,000 for The Guide Dogs for the Blind Association, and are available to buy in store and online at Cubitts.com.
Leading image by Daniel Stier.