Grayson Perry On Taste Turns Tide Against Arts Cuts

Channel 4’s ‘Grayson Perry On Taste’ signals new spate of arts commissions from artists like Banksy, George Shaw, Hilary Lloyd, and David Shrigley

Channel 4 has commissioned Turner Prize-winner Grayson Perry to present a 3-part documentary series exploring the relationship between taste and class in Britain. Grayson Perry on Taste will see the artist journeying through the UK to encounter the full spectrum of British tastes, from mingling with aristocrats in their country estates, to tagging along on a girl’s night out in Sunderland. ‘I spent thirty years building up and honing my North London middle class prejudices about other people’s bad taste,’ explained Perry. ‘Now I have taken those prejudices on safari with me to meet the various tribes that make up British class system’. He will then use the experience to create a major new work comprising a six 2×4 metre tapestries that will tour nationwide.

For Perry, ‘The relationship between our taste and our social background is the elephant in the room of British social life, and I wanted to explore this in an inclusive and non-judgmental way’: ‘Taste runs deep and it has been a fascinating and often emotional experience for me’

The three-part series, for which Perry visited Sunderland, Tunbridge Wells and the Cotswolds to immerse himself in the working, middle and upper classes, will be screened next year. But, perhaps more significantly, is the fact that this commission heralds a new emphasis on arts commissioning for Channel 4.

Channel 4 Arts has just commissioned a raft of creative talent to make new works for its recently launched arts strand ‘Random Acts’, including Turner Prize nominees George Shaw and Hilary Lloyd, artist David Shrigley and conceptual and performance artist Francis Alys. Summer 2012 will even see a night of programming curated by street artist Banksy!

Tabitha Jackson, Channel 4’s commissioning editor for arts, commented on this new approach: ‘I want our arts output to contain films with artists rather than about artists, to be about using artists as guides rather than simply offering guides to artists. This is the spine of our on-going mission – to try to reassert television as an artistically vibrant and experimental medium and use it to get the truth of what it is like to be us.’ 

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