I’ve been lucky enough to see Grayson Perry’s work in the flesh and it’s gorgeous — and not only gorgeous, but disturbing, thought-provoking, funny — everything art should be and usually isn’t. I often think about his 2006 exhibition, The Charms of Lincolnshire, in which he juxtaposed his huge painted pots with items from grim 19th century rural England.
“The biscuit tin idyll of cosy village Britain is luckily in the past, for it was a candlelit, back-breaking, sexist, tubercular child-death hell,” commented the artist on his show.
Around London, at least, Perry is probably even better known for his alter-ego, Claire, than for his artwork. Claire wears elaborate little girl frocks straight out of Mother Goose — like this one that Perry wore to meet the Queen. “I’m probably the first tranny at the Palace, although one or two may have slipped through unnoticed,” he said.
Well, good on the Queen, I say. What a very cool monarch she is. Can you imagine any US president being formally introduced to a flamboyant transvestite? Bill Clinton, possibly. Or Ronald Reagan, who might not have noticed anything amiss.
I’ve seen Perry out and about in London a few times, and his dresses are astonishing beautiful, weird creations. As is he.
As is the nation that treasures such eccentricity. And the queen who enquired about his job, presumably without blinking. And Perry’s psychotherapist wife, whose line on her husband’s dress sense is: “As obsessions go, it’s better than football.”