(Above) David Shrigley's An Important Message About the Arts launches the Save the Arts campaign today
David Shrigley, the cartoonist best known for his doom-laden squiggled postcards and cutely menacing animations, has produced an acerbic new short imploring the government to resist making further cuts to the arts in a signature piece for a new campaign of work by leading domestic artists.
Released today, An Important Message About the Arts shows a farmer with a distinctly northern twang – Shrigley was born in Macclesfield – take his young son on an enlightening trip to an art gallery, where flies swarm around animal remains in a case (“what is it, daddy?” “It’s bloody brilliant, that’s what it is, son.”)
The nod to Damien Hirst doesn’t end there. Britain’s most famous shark preserver is one of more than 100 names to have signed the accompanying petition, joining David Hockney, Antony Gormley, Howard Hodgkin, Anish Kapoor and more on a list comprising a who’s who of the great and good in contemporary UK art.
British culture has "no fat left to trim"
One of the signatories, Jeremy Deller, will also produce a new work for the campaign, followed by Mark Wallinger in a series of responses from artists expected to continue on a weekly basis.
Shrigley’s video shows the farmer shearing a sheep, symbolising the country’s culture. The “jokers in charge of the banks” mean sacrifices need to be made, he warns, but the existing level of cutbacks leave “no fat left to trim” on the proverbial torso of national arts organisations.
The piece remains pragmatic – Tracey Emin, it concedes, is unlikely to replace fire brigade services in saving us in the event of a fire in our homes, but the obvious comparison between the revenue the arts generate and the amount they cost makes their value indispensible, “even if you are a philistine”.
“It’s bloody brilliant, that’s what it is, son.”
“They delight us, transport us, surprise us,” adds our hero, rolling a tractor across a field as livestock listen intently in the background. “They allow us to see something unique, something different and interesting from the latest Hollywood teen vampire b*****s or reality TV.”
Wayne Rooney’s failings at the World Cup are parodied, arguing that British culture is one of the few glories the nation can truly extol across the globe.
“It has taken 50 years to create a vibrant arts culture in Britain that is the envy of the world,” reads the petition. “We appeal to the government not to slash arts funding and risk destroying this long-term achievement and the social and economic benefits it brings to all.”
Click here to sign the petition.
See the video below: