I don’t watch much television these days.Apart from a tiny bit of Wimbledon tennis, the only TV I’ve watched (and that only on catch-up) since returning from two months on Iona is Grayson Perry’s three-part series on Channel 4 entitled “In the Best Possible Taste” –his/her examination of class and taste in the UK (well, England anyway!).
I found them absolutely compelling and was incredibly impressed by Perry (Essex-born artist and transvestite) as a TV presenter. No doubt television companies will be queuing up with ideas for future series! The three programmes focused on Working Class, Middle Class and Upper Class aspects of our society. Perry (like me: middle-class-from-working-class-background?) seemed to be readily accepted by “all classes” in the series – with the possible exception of some from the “upper classes ” who seemed to be a little embarrassed and defensive by his interest.
I personally found some of the “aspirational middle class” people a little embarrassing (especially the woman who bought the entire, furnished showhouse on the so-called “model” middle class estate!), but actually felt that I became a little more sympathetic to some of the working class attitudes and behaviour through the programme.
As part of the television series, Perry ended up producing six wonderful, large tapestries telling the story of class mobility. They’re all full of carefully-observed detail, humour and poignancy and I’d certainly like to see them on show at the Victoria Miro Gallery, London (“Vanity of Small Differences” exhibition lasts until 11 August and it’s free).
Photo: “Annunciation of the Virgin Deal” (middle class) tapestry.
PS: It’s interesting how television has become such a force in helping to showcase an artist’s work. I was terribly impressed by the David Hockney “A Bigger Picture” exhibition at the Royal Academy earlier this year (which was the subject of a special “Culture Show” programme – and even inclusion in “Countryfile”!) – which surely must have broken the RA’s attendance records? I suspect that the Channel 4 series will have a similar effect on Grayson Perry’s current and future exhibitions (although those who saw his brilliant “Tomb of the Unknown Craftsman” exhibition at the British Museum won’t need any further encouragement!)... click here for my quick "take" on both exhibitions.