BORN in Macclesfield, David Shrigley went on to study environmental art at the Glasgow School of Art. He would live in the city for 30 years before moving to Brighton three years ago. Known best for his witty and ironic drawings, Shrigley has also created sculptures such as Really Good which currently stands in Trafalgar Square. He was nominated for the Turner Prize in 2013 and has also collaborated with a number of musicians including former Talking Heads frontman David Byrne. He spoke to EDWIN GILSON at the launch of the Brighton Festival which he will guest direct

Is there a certain theme that connects your festival choices?

You mean is there an existential bent to the programming of the festival? Not that I’m aware of. Part of my artwork is that it has a certain personality to it, a certain comedy, a certain view of life, so I guess inevitably that becomes part of the visual identity of the festival. That’s not something I’m really conscious of, though. In terms of what I programmed I just wrote a wishlist. I said ‘“how do we do this?” and they said, “well just write a list of things you want to see”. I wanted to see Ezra Furman and Bridget Christie, to name two, so it was great to get them on the programme.

Some of your work has encouraged people not just to take part in art but also to critique it and reflect on its role in society. Will you be injecting this ethos into the festival?

It would perhaps be a bit pompous if I was to present work at the festival alongside that kind of blurb but when you make any art it changes in different contexts.

Life Model II, a festival event in which the audience is invited to draw a lifelike sculpture that you have created, is an example of that, I suppose.

That almost has two parts. It’s had a longer life than I anticipated because it’s about other people’s work as much as it is about mine. You can look at it in different ways. It’s an inclusive thing but it’s also interesting to see people’s drawings of my artwork. They’re presenting their view of my art, literally. That’s a really interesting thing and the reason why I’m still going with it.

Whereas I’ve done some pieces in the past where I’ve thought, ‘I’m not that bothered to see the back of that’. My fourth plinth thing [in Trafalgar Square] is disappearing in March. While it’s been a great experience, I’m kind of happy that it’s going. Now I can talk about something else.

How do you feel when you go to Trafalgar Square and see your own massive sculpture?

It’s almost embarrassing, in a way. I feel slightly humbled by it. It’s been a really visible piece for me as an artist at this stage of my career. It’s a big thing, literally, and it’s been a big deal.

You go to a lot of gigs in Brighton. Do you think having a knowledge of the city’s cultural scene will help you with the festival?

Seeing live music is a big part of my social life. The Old Market is a venue I really like but it’s not such a well-used music venue. In terms of size and acoustics it’s a great venue so when they asked where I wanted my piece [his pantomime Problem In Brighton] I said I wanted it there. Obviously I’m not going to do it at the Dome.

You’ve spoken a lot about the link between art and wellbeing. Do you think having an annual arts festival here lifts the city?

Yes. Part of Brighton’s mantra is about inclusivity and that culture is for everyone. The festival is not an elitist thing.

You like your football. Do you think Albion will stay in the Premier League?

I hope they do. I don’t see Albion play much as there’s a conflict of interests with Nottingham Forest who I support. I really hope they stay up because it’s a great stadium and it would be a big boost for city. I think they can do it because Chris Hughton is a really good manager who manages his resources well. It’s all about injuries and small margins.