The Race (eventually you must join in), an ink drawing by David Shrigley, takes centre stage as Featured Work for April – a month of sporting events including the London Marathon, the Grand National and the Boat Races.

The Race (eventually you must join in)

  • Select Image

A recent acquisition by the Government Art Collection, this ink drawing is one of over 200 works by David Shrigley that have been displayed at Sketch, a restaurant in London since 2014. Characteristic of Shrigley’s idiosyncratic graphic style and populated by stick figures, his sketches (appropriately) touch on themes that highlight the absurdity of contemporary life. Set within a grid of four scenes, The Race (eventually you must join in) shows a solitary bystander watching other figures running by, the diversity of some suggested by a difference in scale. This metaphoric sketch captures the poignancy of the lone outsider watching life run by.

A vein of humour and wit runs through Shrigley’s work across a range of media. Really Good, his 10-metre-high ‘thumbs up’ bronze sculpture for the Fourth Plinth in Trafalgar Square was unveiled in autumn 2016. Talking about it at the time, he hoped it would radiate positivity, as well as making people laugh:

It’s a paradox, I mean it lightheartedly, satirically, sarcastically maybe – but I kind of believe it as well.

The same can be said of his drawings.

David Shrigley was born in Macclesfield, Cheshire, and his family later moved to Leicester. After completing a foundation course at Leicester Polytechnic in the late 1980s, he studied at Glasgow School of Art (1988–91).

Drawing on a long British tradition of satire, Shrigley’s drawings, animations and sculptures reflect upon grand themes of life and death. His drawings have been widely published including Why We Got The Sack From The Museum, (Redstone Press, 1998); and What The Hell Are You Doing? (Canongate Books, 2010). He has produced sculptures in a range of material including bronze, cement, ceramic and plastic.

Shrigley’s past solo exhibitions include participation at Auckland Arts Festival, New Zealand (2015); National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne (2014–15); Pinakothek der Moderne, Munich (2014); Cornerhouse Gallery (2012), Hayward Gallery, London (2012); Yerba Beuna Centre for the Arts, San Francisco (2012); and Kelvingrove Museum, Glasgow (2010).

In 2011–12, Pass the Spoon an illustrated libretto produced in collaboration between Shrigley, the composer David Fennessy and director Nicholas Bone was performed at Tramway, Glasgow and the Southbank Centre, London. Shrigley was nominated for the Turner Prize in 2013. His current projects include Memorial, a public art project in New York (2016–17); and David Shrigley: Lose Your Mind at Storage, Seoul (2017).