Renowned for his stunning ceramics and tapestries, Turner Prize winner Grayson Perry gave an enthralling talk this week to media and communication students at Lime Grove, entitled “There is no right way to do what you want.”
Unlike the creative students of today, who Perry describes as the “shock troops of capitalism”, he defines his own work as quite traditional, affirming that he is someone who has “rebelled against rebellion.” Perry states that “capitalism needs new ideas” and that students like those at LCF are the ones to supply them.
Despite claiming to have “a bit of a problem with fashion,” he also loves clothes. As a proud transvestite, Perry claims his attitude to art “came from [his] transvestism.’ Known for wearing a wide variety of bold, innovative and often quite crazy outfits, many of which he buys straight off the graduate catwalks, Perry’s “just wear what you want” approach to fashion is both refreshing and enchanting.
In a world where “anything can be art”, Perry described how his favourite teddy bear Alan Measles became the unlikely star of a major project and exhibition held at the British Museum. It was after a trip to Japan, where he noticed lots of shrines, that Perry posed the question, what makes a god? His conclusion being that, just like a god, teddy bears, such as Alan Measles, are an “imaginary friend onto which we project our human feelings.” Therefore, Alan can and ought to be treated in a similar fashion to a god.
Whilst the project and exhibition were both a lot of fun, the Alan Measles story did have meaning behind it – in Alan’s words “hold your beliefs lightly.” Perry played upon the ideas of pilgrimage and religion within these works, but by incorporating Alan, it all became much more fun and far more accessible to a younger audience, who were the target market for the exhibition after all.
Perry also discussed the philosophical quandary of how having so much more access means that we struggle to decide what we want. As a ‘digital gourmet’, Perry doesn’t believe in using an iPhone or many other major technologies that dominate the mass market as “ so much choice is crippling” He instead opts for picking and choosing which technologies to indulge in.
His final words were of advice to the many students listening: “You’re prepared by art college, but it’s from the day you start going out there and doing things for yourselves that you really start learning. My job is to do what I want, but that isn’t easy. Have confidence in your work.”
- Words by Nicole Campanaro, BA (Hons) Fashion Journalism
- Images by LCF students Coco Captain and Ella Sullivan