Today’s Review in The Daily Telegraph had an excellent interview with Grayson Perry, “Britain’s second most famous transvestite” (although James Walton, the interviewer, argued that Perry has probably now overtaken Eddie Izzard in the British transvestite charts).
“… He does seem both surprised and tickled to be asked about his suspiciously posh name. ‘Grayson is an inspirational name, I think – and therefore working-class. My mother wanted me to be interesting and, God bless her, it’s come in very handy in the age of Google. Who could have foreseen that?’ …”
“… Not that Perry has gone over completely to the showbiz dark side. Earlier this year, he was a guest on The Rob Brydon Show and ‘felt very uncomfortable. I kept thinking, ‘This is a long way from The Culture Show‘.’ (A quick visit to YouTube will confirm that he’s not being paranoid.) Even so, he seems pretty content with his current level of fame – not least because it annoys those art-world types who believe that the serious artist should be a forbidding figure. ‘I suppose I do want to tease the art world, but that’s not easy these days. … For me, earnestness is the greatest crime an Englishman can commit.’
“Among his specific targets are Damien Hirst, who’s damned with cunningly faint praise (‘the perfect artist for the Blairite years’) and much of video art (‘boring films that certainly wouldn’t cut it in the Grierson’s [the British Documentary Awards which Perry will be presenting on Tuesday and which will be shown on Sky Arts 2 on November 12th]‘). …
“‘The moment I realised how mainstream modern art had become was when Antony Gormley did that fourth plinth in Trafalgar Square (the one where people performed on the top) and Lynda Snell in The Archers campaigned for somebody in Ambridge to get there. Thirty years ago, she’d have been campaigning against the Tate buying a pile of bricks.’
“But of course what people outside the art world notice most about it is all that money. … ‘If you see art as a way of making money, you start making c— art quite often. The second I try and guess what the market needs, I start floundering.’ …
” … ‘I’ve been watching Robert Hughes’s The Shock of the New again on BBC4 – I love him – and even in 1980 he was describing the art market as tulip mania (the classic economic bubble from 17th century Holland). Since then, the mania hasn’t abated, thank God, but I often see the art world as a room full of people blowing to keep the bubble up – and you wonder what will happen the minute somebody runs out of breath.’”
On the 11th November, BBC Radio4 Extra are rebroadcasting Desert Island Discs with Grayson Perry as part of the run up to this year’s Turner Prize. Antony Gormley (4th November), Rachel Whiteread and Sir Howard Hodgkin are also featured.