Grayson Perry is one of the UK’s leading artistic talents and a Royal Academician, and his show ‘Grayson’s Art Club’ is currently showing on Channel 4. It is not your typical TV programme, but then what is typical about the times we’re living through? In keeping with the new forms of media and television we are seeing emerge as a result of COVID-19, it has a homemade feel, as we are invited to step into the studio Grayson shares with wife Philippa and cat Kevin. He frequently video calls celebrities as well as members of the British public to ask about what art means to them.
This programme has a radical and inspirational premise, demonstrating how art can be a refuge from the pressures of everyday life. In brief, it is a love letter to the wonder of art and its inherent value in our lives.
The format is simple, with each week covering different areas of art such as fantasy, animals, and portraiture. Also each week, Grayson is joined by a celebrity guest, including comedians Harry Hill and Noel Fielding, as well as fellow artists such as sculptor Sir Anthony Gormley. Together, over video and from the comfort of their own homes, they chat about how art is helping them through lockdown. We also get to witness the development of Grayson and Philippa’s own art projects as they take shape over the weeks. He is carving a life size sculpture of his teddy bear, Alan Measles.
Grayson Perry wants to put together an exhibition as soon as he is able to, including some of his own artwork produced during lockdown alongside pieces that members of the British public have submitted. Some are weird, some are wonderful, some are frankly creepy. Regardless, it is the gentle and kind spirit with which this is done that we can remember the most. It is heart-warming to see the reactions of the British public to the news that their artwork will be in an exhibition, all in the knowledge that art is a bright spot and welcome escape in their days during lockdown.
So, this programme is as innocent as it is radical, inspiring people all over Britain to pick up a pencil or paintbrush. The main thing we can take away from it is that art does not need to be perfect, it’s simply about having a go.
With this in mind, why not take the pressure off yourself during this time – just because everyone on social media seems to be pursuing some grand new project during lockdown, it doesn’t mean you have to. Rather, Grayson gently encourages creativity, which can look different for everyone. It might be cooking a meal, spending time in the garden, photography, knitting or sewing, or something else entirely. It is whatever works for you. The benefits of creativity are instrumental to our mental health, especially during times of uncertainty. This is perhaps best summed up when Grayson says, “art, in whatever form you can snatch it, is good for you”.
**** 4 stars