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Express yourself: Grayson’s Art Club arrives at the Bristol Museum & Art Gallery

After two successful series of Grayson’s Art Club, which saw Grayson and Philippa Perry virtually invite artists and celebrities to their studio during the months of lockdown, the new pieces of work have arrived at the Bristol Museum & Art Gallery. Here, we take a closer look at the poignant exhibition…

During lockdown, Grayson Perry – one of Britain’s leading artists – helped the nation find comfort and company through art in his critically acclaimed Channel 4 series, Grayson’s Art Club. Each week on Zoom, Grayson and his wife, Philippa, invited the great British public to their studio where they spoke to famous artists and creatives about how they were spending their time, inviting them to respond creatively to lockdown. Alongside artists, the couple asked celebrity guests including Boy George, Derren Brown and Alex Horne to create brand new works of art in response to Grayson’s weekly themes – family, nature, food, dreams, work, and travel. The public were also invited to share their works and over 17,000 entries were submitted throughout the series in a vast range of mediums – from paintings and photography, to ceramics and textiles.

Now, after a successful two series of the programme, an exhibition of the masterpieces has gone on display at the Bristol Museum & Art Gallery, where they will stay until 4 September. Grayson and his celebrity guests chose the pieces that now adorn the gallery’s walls.

Spread across three floors, the exhibition is a vibrant and poignant chronicle of lockdown and forms a lasting artistic record of the unique time the nation has lived through. As well as three galleries to explore, works are interspersed within the permanent collection to create a trail throughout the museum.

Alongside Grayson and Philippa’s brilliant pieces, visitors can enjoy works from Anneka Rice, Chila Kumari Burman-Singh, David Bailey, Banksy, Sir Frank Bowling, Holly Walsh, Jane Seymour, Johnny Vegas, Lianne La Havas, Lucy Sparrow, Mawaan Rizwan, Polly Morgan, Russell Tovey, Sue Perkins, Tom Allen, Yinka Ilori, Boy George, Alex Horne and Derren Brown.

Speaking about the exhibition, Grayson Perry said: “The team at Bristol Museum & Art Gallery have created a fitting tribute to the many touching and memorable works of art that were created by people all over the country. I particularly enjoyed flyposting the fanzine I created in episode four onto the gallery walls!”

Jon Finch, Head of Culture and Creative Industries at Bristol City Council, said: “Grayson’s Art Club is a real dose of comfort after the last couple of years. A particular highlight for me is the portrait of Grayson by Becky Tyler who creates incredible artworks using eye-tracking software. I think visitors will enjoy hunting down the works throughout our permanent galleries. These inventions are sometimes amusing, often thought-provoking and encourage visitors to see the museum in a new light. Banksy was invited to contribute to the exhibition as an artist featured in the TV programme. We’re delighted that his Create Escape stencil will be on show to visitors to the museum.”

To accompany the exhibition, a special episode of Grayson’s Art Club aired on Channel 4 on 10 December – it can now be enjoyed on Channel 4’s catch-up service, 4oD. In the programme, Grayson goes behind the scenes at the museum as he oversees the creation of the exhibition, and visits some of his best-loved contributors at home.

Grayson’s Art Club will be on display at Bristol Museum & Art Gallery until 4 September 2022. Entry is ‘pay what you can’. The exhibition is sponsored by UWE Bristol; bristolmuseums.org.uk

Featured image: Grayson and Philippa Perry; image credit Jon Craig/@jonCraig_Photos