(Sorry, Grayson. I know you regard yourself as a ceramics artist and not a potter but then it wouldn’t have been an alliteration.) Great news in today’s Torygraph! Grayson Perry is presenting this year’s Reith Lectures!
“The Reith Lectures have provided a platform for some of the most luminary figures in modern culture, from Bertrand Russell, the philosopher, to Aung San Suu Kyi, the Burmese Nobel Prize-winner and political leader. Now the BBC has extended the honour to Grayson Perry, the cross-dressing artist noted for his ceramic works and television documentaries on class attitudes to culture.
“Perry, who was awarded the Turner Prize in 2003, will be the first visual artist to deliver the BBC Reith Lectures. Gwyneth Williams, Radio 4’s controller, said Perry was chosen as part of her ambition to “throw some fireworks” into the station’s schedule. Perry, who also works with printmaking, drawing, sculpture and tapestry, will use the four lectures to explore where art is heading in the globalised, digital 21st century.
“The lecture series, entitled Grayson Perry: Playing to the Gallery, will be broadcast on Radio 4 in October and November. In the talks, he will reflect on the idea of quality and art, and how to judge quality in an age when “anything goes”. He will also consider what art from the 21st century looks like when examined in detail, and its role in society.
“Perry said: “I want to celebrate an emotional relationship with visual art, the innocent drive to make it, to look at it, feast on it, to love it. I feel now is a good time to reflect on the idea of quality and how we might, in an age where we are told anything can be art, appreciate which art is any good.
“The words and the money associated with contemporary art also need examining. I want to talk about my ambivalent relationship with the art world, how I am profoundly grateful to it yet struggle not to be a curmudgeon or a cynic. In short, I want to talk about what it is like to be an artist, here, now.”
“In the opening lecture, Perry will explore whether it is possible for artists to maintain their integrity when they become acclaimed. Subsequent lectures will build on the theme and examine who and what defines what we see and value as art.
“Perry says he will try to shine a light on how the art world and market works, and consider how contemporary art is perceived by the press, the public and artists in today’s Britain. He will also examine the language that has developed to describe art and what he has identified as people’s need to over-intellectualise their response to art.
Ms Williams said Perry had been chosen because she wanted to make Radio 4 a “playground for creative minds” and to get artists involved “to create some colourful, unpredictable and original programming”. She said: “When I met Perry, I was inspired by his insight into the creative process and by the deep humanity evident in his work. Radio 4 should be a home for artists and a place of creativity, and who better to make this happen than Grayson?”
“Perry will deliver his lectures to live audiences. The first will be recorded at Tate Modern in London; the others will be at St George’s Hall in Liverpool, the Guildhall in Londonderry and Central Saint Martins in London.”
There is certainly one person looking forward to hearing these lectures. I think they should be available via the interweb thingy for those living in the colonies.