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Grayson Perry's Visit

Grayson Perry OBE visits Fortismere and captivates us all!

“The most important skill for people in life is to be able to change.”

“Coolness is the enemy of creativity.”

“Good art is that which everybody agrees is good art; and that can change.”


These are just some of the thought-provoking ideas shared by Grayson Perry in his recent talk to art students at Fortismere. The visit was organised by the Art Department and sixth-formers from other local schools also joined us.


Grayson Perry OBE is a potter, tapestry-maker, curator, writer and presenter. He won the Turner Prize in 2003 and has exhibited all over the world. He is known for his alter-ego, Claire, and wears spectacular dresses when he appears as her. His latest project, Who Are You?, combines a Channel 4 programme and an exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery, and starts at the end of October.


And on Tuesday 6th October, he came to Fortismere! In a truly memorable presentation, he spoke about the inspiration behind some of his most famous artworks. This ranged from the invasion of marketing into our brains (“brands are like modern gods”), to the lack of a good male role model when growing up.


He talked about how long it took to become a ‘successful’ artist, and reinforced the message that any aspiring professional needs to be on time, be organised and be nice. He said that persistence was vital, as is ‘having a go’. He reassured the audience that it can take a long time to find your voice, but that that made it a worthwhile life-long pursuit.


He spoke in a very philosophical but down-to-earth way about the illusion that we are all individuals, and said that, in his experience, we are all more alike than we know, and that this is a great thing. As such, he said, we are made by society and a big part of our identity is to say what we are out loud, so that others can acknowledge it.


These powerful messages had us all transfixed, and Grayson delivered them in such a warm and humorous way, supporting what he said with a slide show of his own work and personal photographs.


Afterwards, he took a number of questions from the students present, including what he does if he gets a creative block (“go and do something else for a while”), who his favourite artist is (“I don’t do favourites; I change my mind all the time”) and which persona, Claire or Grayson, produces his art (“Claire can’t make art – it’s just me in a dress! She’s not real!”).


The whole experience was very special for students and staff alike and we were truly honoured to welcome him to Fortismere. It will live long in our memories….