Anyone for Tennis…..Art?

The tennis year has just started in Australia and as the first week comes to a close, so did did David Shrigley’s Mayfair Tennis Ball Exchange at the Stephen Friedman Gallery in London.

The exhibition displayed 12,000 brand new tennis balls on wooden shelves all round the gallery.

gallery frontage - inside all the walls are lined with shelves on which are placed brand new yellow tennis balls, 12.000 in all.
Stephen Friedman Gallery – David Shrigley “Mayfair Tennis Ball Exchange” Nov 19th 2021

The concept was for people to come with a tennis ball of their own and replace one of the exhibition tennis balls with their own. Thereby as visitors come to view the exhibition, the exhibition itself morphed into something different.

Conceptual art can be a tough sell, often causing controversy and raising the question of whether it is art at all.

David Shrigley in my opinion has nailed it. The exhibition on its first day before a single ball was exchanged was elegant and beautiful its own right. It was mesmerizing. Then as the first visitors started to arrive and started to participate with their ball exchange, the art began to evolve. This is what art is about. It is about the communication, the give and take, of ideas, feelings and observations.

The exhibition and the first exchange.

David Shrigley is a British artist who is best known for his quirky drawings with hand written comments. He also creates books, music, animation, photography, paintings and installations.

Apropos of this exhibition, the All England Lawn Tennis and Cricket Club which hosts the Wimbledon Tennis Championships prepares about 54,000 tennis balls for their 2 week tournament. The US Open Tennis Championships organized by the USTA prepares 70,000 tennis balls. The average tennis game can use 25 balls.

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