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Arnolfini Interview: Grayson Perry

Grayson Perry spoke to a sold out crowd at St. George's on Tuesday evening. On the day of the preview we caught up with Grayson and found out more about his creative process and thinking behind the exhibition in this video interview. You can find the full transcript below.


My job is to notice things that other people don’t notice and that’s what I’ve become skilled to. I see myself as like a satellite dish, I pick up the signals that are maybe a little bit faint for other people. I’m looking for patterns.

I’m most interested in society. Everything I do, I try to make so that everybody in Britain identifies with it in some way.

I don’t go off to exotic climes for my inspiration; I look out in the high street at people going by. I just sit and have a cup of coffee and watch people go by, and I usually have enough material to create another show.

I called this show ‘The Most Popular Art Exhibition Ever!’ because whenever I mention that to an art person, I can see them slightly recoil. 

Most people can probably name one or two artists which they probably couldn’t have done 30 years ago. Art now is much more popular than it used to be, I think that we have responsibility as artists to make art that a wide audience can appreciate.

That doesn’t mean dumbing down. It means having the sensitivity and understanding of a wide variety of people’s lives and giving them something that they can identify with and enjoy. That is my mission.

Photo Lisa Whiting

Photo Lisa Whiting. 

People come to art galleries on their day off, they don’t want homework! They don’t want to be hit over the head with some political lesson. They want to be surprised, yes, but give them some credit. They should get something that they enjoy.

It seems that art has lost its way a bit sometimes with that. A lot of artists are talking to each other and to critics and to curators and I think that it’s shameful. Have some empathy with the audience! You’ve got to have some empathy with people who don’t live and work in the art world all the time.

Maybe the creativity and the energy and the skills are people who aren’t part of that hermetically sealed world. I’m a great fan of outsider art, which is art made spontaneously by people who aren’t part of the art world.

I think a place where we find this creativity, political insight and enormous fun is the Internet. Online, social media, places like Twitter and Instagram, you see it all the time. This is a lesson – I’m thinking, ‘my Twitter feed is more entertaining than any exhibition I’ve been to in the last six months! There’s something wrong here!’

We always think of the white cube as kind of the end game of art galleries. Maybe art galleries of the future will be weightless. Maybe they will be online. The whole idea of coming to a place might disappear. Maybe the white cube might not be the default anymore. In the future it might be anywhere, or everywhere. There’s no telling what it’ll be!

Thursday 24 October 2019, 18:30 to 20:00

£12 / £10 / £5 + BF Book

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