On the Couch with Grayson Perry

Grayson Perry AAR On the CouchWho is Grayson Perry?
British artist, author, television presenter, sometimes cross dresser.

What is Them and Us about?
Them and Us is about the divisions in society, our need to have an in-group and an ‘other’. All around the world societies are becoming polarized. It’s a fun show where I use technology to constantly survey the audience about their political, social and aesthetic choices. I want them to cringe/laugh!

What would you do differently to what you do now?
I would have done everything earlier, I was a late developer – my art career didn’t take off till I was forty and my TV career at fifty – now I’m loving being on stage and I’m nearly sixty!

Who inspires you and why?
It could be anything, a conversation, a TV or radio show, an article on twitter, an artwork in a museum. I am always looking for patterns in society and mischief. What makes me angry and what makes me joyful.

What would you do to make a difference in the world?
After I have solved global poverty and war and climate change, I would carry on trying to communicate the big, complex important ideas in a fun and attractive way. Whilst looking fabulous in a ridiculous gown of course.

Favourite holiday destination and why?
I dislike holidays, I feel unmotivated and bored. I like working abroad so I see countries from the tradesman’s entrance. I’ve just finished shooting a series in the USA for channel 4 and we went to a lot of ordinary suburban places – but I loved it. I like meeting a wide variety of people and work helps me do that.

When friends come to town, what attraction would you take them to, and why?
I would take them on a long slow bicycle ride around central London about eight o’clock on a summer evening so they could witness the buzz and variety of the city, the beautiful old streets and the milling crowds. We could stop several times for a beer.

What are you currently reading?
I am reading Perfidious Albion by Sam Byers – which is a novel set in a near future Britain where the internet and social media play an even more central role in everyone’s lives. It is fun and sharp and is really just a teeny bit of an exaggeration of what is going on right now in the shit-show that is Brexit Britain.

What are you currently listening to?
Ghosteen by Nick Cave. I am a fairly recent convert to him and am sampling and relishing treats from his back catalogue. I am a fan of a slushy ballad and his are so poignant and intelligent.

Happiness is?
Good fun warm relationships with friends and family, a beer in the back garden, a nice cycle or motorcycle ride, a delightful new dress, work going well, a juicy box set on TV. Normal stuff, happiness is not a peak experience it’s contentment not ecstasy.

What does the future hold for you?
Next year I have a touring show of my early artwork called The Pre-Therapy Years – that is going round the UK. I am already working on the follow up stage show to Them and Us which will tour the country next autumn. I am working on artwork about the USA in response to my experiences there this summer which I hope to also exhibit there.

Grayson performs Them & Us at Sydney’s State Theatre on Thursday 16 January, before playing Hamer Hall – Arts Centre Melbourne on Saturday 18 January 2020.

Image: Grayson Perry (supplied)