Grayson Perry Sailing out of the Dodgy Art Pool

GP Opera House 2015Sometimes our very human desire for meaning can get in the way of having a good experience of the world” Grayson Perry.

Detail You are Here pot

Detail You are Here pot

Not much scares an Essex transvestite potter except the “dodgy art pool”.

I spent the day visiting a great exhibition Grayson Perry: My Pretty Little Art Career at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney. I had a marvellous lunch atop the MCA, overlooking the Opera House where Perry would give a talk later in the day on How To Be an Artist Just Like Me. I think as an artist you tend to look for talks, trawl art magazines and even attend art workshops in the hope that you understand the artist better and even anticipate that a little bit of magic will rub off.


The greatest piece of advice came from Perry, who had fearlessly donned flamboyant orange tights, pink perilous platforms and a shimmery blue nappy-like costume, that he was frightened of ending up in a craft store.  We all are familiar with the type of store, coloured glass platters, decorator cushions, crafty wood items and pottery. His advice to sail out of that world, be brave and head for open waters to explore the world beyond. Take risks, make mistakes. After seeing the work in this mammoth exhibition I don’t think there was ever a danger of Perry being moored on the fatal shore of the dodgy art pool.


The Tomb of the Unknown Craftsman

The Tomb of the Unknown Craftsman

Prep sketches for the Tomb

Prep sketches for the Tomb

Shrine to Alan Measles 2007

Shrine to Alan Measles 2007

Sketches for The Upper Class at Bay tapestry

Sketches for The Upper Class at Bay tapestry






Better a Clever Enemy than a Stupid Friend

I had this wonderful image all ready for my post yesterday.  The Gardener and the Bear – a page from the manuscript of the Anvar-i Suhayli (the Lights of Canopus) by al-Kashifi (detail) Iran c. 1550-75 from the British Museum. Once again from that wonderful book on Grayson Perry The Tomb of the Unknown Craftsman.

The story goes in reward for the man’s kindness, the bear seeks to kill a fly on his face with a stone. The inscription reads “A clever enemy is better than a stupid friend.” Let’s just say I feel like a gardener this week and this fable seems to reek of rock.  I have taken to the paintbrush today at last but it was to paint a pot.

The moral, Stop painting pots, I need to get out of the garden before someone chucks that stone!

This is my painting of a rock. It has not yet hit me in the face.

The 3 Bears and My Head of Porridge

“Creativity is often just mistakes.” Grayson Perry

  I nicked into Wollongong library just to return a few CDs. I wasn’t expecting Grayson Perry to emit sonic rays of “Come and Get Me” from the pyramid of new releases. But he did. The Tomb of the Unknown Craftsman.

Meanwhile this morning Katharine PhotoBooth had me commenting about badly drawn bears in dioramas.  Somehow my blogging, book and art-world had been stirred and dished up in the lumpy form of Alan Measles.

I wasn’t going to let my brain be porridge today. I was going to be switched on, plan, make lists but it soon became bergoo (this was my Dad’s term for porridge -I have no idea if bergoo is a real term, spell check doesn’t seem to think so ). I was the first person in library-land to borrow the book and I had to start reading. Grayson Perry had ridden his way into my life lately in the most amazing way.

Alan Measles was Perry’s bear. Inspired by the collection of the British Museum, Alan Measles lives through Grayson Perry.  Once again the organisational side of me slid from the burner. I thought maybe by stirring the porridge in my head a little longer it would form some solid mass, slowly percolating and becoming cohesive. The ingredients are Alan Measles, Dioramas, New Guinea Masks and Bears but something is missing, that dash of brown sugar that will make it interesting, sweet, digestible. Maybe it’s Bungendore.

This photo and Alan Measles is from the book Grayson Perry The Tomb of the Unknown Craftsman

Roadside Studio

Posting a view of Grayson Perry’s studio reminded me of my old studio. This morning I found a small box of drawings, cards and stuff I had pinned up in my temporary studios.  The bits and pieces inside a studio give you an idea of where you’ve been and how you work.This shot was during the work for the Roadside Exhibition.  I had rigged up a door over two trestle tables for a drawing.  On the floor I had discovered the benefits of gadgets so that I had a constant source of music or podcasts.  I can’t work without music.  I have an eclectic taste which includes blues, jazz, punk, classical and even disco. At one stage I remember saying there was only two types of music I disliked, country and western but I really like Johnny Cash and Willie Nelson so I guess there’s not much I dislike apart from Mariah Carey and Celine Dion type divas.

I loved this studio for the breeze I would get from the beach down the hill.  It was also the home for possums and lizards. It also backed on to the train tracks and I would love to sit on the step outside and watch the carriages flashing past.

There was also the drive to and from the studio each day, about 15 mins that also influenced how I was working and part of the impetus for this exhibition.

I always have a collection of photos and sketches for works I produce and I love these shots I took leading up to this exhibition. The by-pass was new and the colours of the concrete were inspirational in these works.

Birds, Bones, Boogeymans and Men in Bonnets

Tiptoe Lark by Henrik Lund (Finland)

Grayson Perry

Once again it’s another serendipitous moment, a raspberry swirl of worlds that come together, mix and produce a sweetness for me.  This time it was a visit to the Australian Museum in Sydney, a visit to a strangers blog and an exhibition by Grayson Perry a world away.

I had seen the Yiwarra Kuju Canning Stock Route exhibition in Canberra well over a year ago but more than happy to revisit.  This painting is Tika Tika Rock Holes made by Ngirntaka-the perentie goanna. Despite the overwhelming sadness the hangs over the exhibition, the interactive displays are wonderful and the touchscreens that make tracks in the dirt help you to imagine yourself within  the landscape.

Tika Tika (2008) by Nola Campbell National Museum of Australia

At the same time Masks from Melanesia were also on display and after taking in the talk on art from Papua New Guinea earlier in the day it was great to go from Powerpoint to powerful.

The purpose for the visit was to take in the Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition. After cruising the wonderful images, I was of course most impressed with these simple bird photos. By this time we were tiring but no visit to the museum is complete without swinging by a few bones.  Skeletal forms never fail to impress and neither does the museum.

Extreme Foraging by Ron McCombe (UK)

The Museum was always a childhood treat for me. Dad and I would catch the train and spend the day, fascinated by the stuffed, pinned and painted.

Grayson Perry (Artists and their Studios Photography by Eamonn McCabe)

Yesterday I was ambling through an impressive WordPress blog by  LDN when I came upon this wonderful link to an exhibition of Grayson Perry at the British Museum.  What a wonderful experience for an artist inside the museum.  I remember watching someone seated sketching bison in the New York Museum of Natural History and thinking I would love nothing better than to spend a day sketching at the museum, but where do you start? How do you pick?

Museum Natural History New York

So in the most unexpected way all the worlds came together in a meld of masks, bonnets, birds and boogeyman.