Grayson urges all to ‘send in the Queens’
Wednesday: Grayson’s Art Club: Jubilee - (Channel 4, 10pm)
We can’t get enough of Grayson Perry, or his wife Philippa, for that matter.
They’re a wonderful couple, each supportive of the other’s work while also putting a metaphorical arm around those who tune into their programmes – like a televisual favourite aunt and uncle, full of wisdom and charm. They could also be described as the king and queen of Britain’s art scene.
The Turner Prize-winning potter has been making eye-catching documentaries for Channel 4 for years, while his transvestism has also made him stand out from the crowd. However, it’s his Art Club series, in which psychotherapist Philippa also appears (and sometimes their beloved cat Kevin), which truly turned him into a national treasure during lockdown.
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“The show was borne out of a time where we needed art to help us make sense of the changes in our lives and find meaning from what we were collectively going through,” he remarks.
“Grayson’s Art Club has brilliantly demonstrated how much art means to so many people, and its power to bring us together and help us in difficult times,” adds Channel 4 commissioning editor Shaminder Nahal.
The show has also helped make art feel more accessible. Too often in the past it has been depicted as something highfaluting with a sense of its own importance; some of its more serious exponents could also be accused of pretentiousness too. However, the Perry approach is, rather refreshingly, down to earth.
The most recent run – the show’s third series – ended a few weeks ago, leaving a huge gap in our Friday evening schedules. As regular viewers know, each edition is based around a particular theme, and the same goes for this one-off special in which the duo focus on the Queen’s forthcoming Platinum Jubilee.
“For most of us the Queen has always been there, a part of who we are, a dream symbol,” claims Perry. “She carries a lot of meaning, she’s a good subject for art.”
She’s also probably been painted and photographed more than any other citizen on the planet during her 96 years; creating new, innovative works that stands out from those made before is far from easy. Nevertheless, back in February, the Perrys asked viewers to make and then submit their takes on the monarch.
The aim behind the request is to find out what the British public really think about Queen Elizabeth II – will the amateur artists’ depictions reveal they regard her as the grandmother of the nation, or a far more formal, detached and perhaps remote figure? All will be revealed when the Perrys and their guest Prue Leith select the ones they find the most intriguing.
After that, they will form the basis of a major, national, regal-inspired exhibition. Of course, both Grayson and Philippa will also be adding their own creations into the mix. The results should be stunning and, hopefully, provide a fitting tribute to a woman who, for many of us, has been a mainstay in our lives.