Grayson Perry, Reith Lectures/Playing to the Gallery

In 2013, Grayson Perry delivered the BBC Reith Lectures as a series of talks entitled Playing to the Gallery, since made available in book form.

Here are some quotes (taken from the book) that made sense to me in the context of process…

To begin with:

[Art’s] most important role is to make meaning. [p111]

So is what you’re doing meaningful to you?

As an artist, the ability to resist peer pressure, to trust one’s own judgement, is vital but it can be a lonely and anxiety-inducing procedure. [p18]

You can work ideas…

It’s … a great joy to learn a technique, because as soon as you learn it, you start thinking in it. When I learn a new technique my imaginative possibilities have expanded. Skills are really important to learn; the better you get at a skill, the more you have confidence and fluency. [p122]

Artists have historically worked technology…

In the past artists were the real innovators of technology. [p100]

…but can we work technology, as art?

The metaphor that best describes what it’s like for my practice as an artist is that of a refuge, a place inside my head where I can go on my own and process the world and its complexities. It’s an inner shed in which I can lose myself. [p131]

I said the final farewell to a good friend and great social technology innovator, Ches Lincoln, who died on Christmas Eve, last week. In one project we worked together on, an online learning space, we created a forum called “The Shed” for the those learners who wanted to get really geeky and techie in their questions and discussions, and whose conversations risked scaring off the majority.

And finally…

The sound a box of Lego makes is the noise of a child’s mind working, looking for the right piece. [p116]


Baudelaire, Intellectual Talisman Along the Way to Impressionism

During tumultuous times there is often an individual, an intellectual talisman if you like, who watches events unfold and extracts the essence of what is happening into a text, which then provides a handbook for the oppressed. For the frustrated Paris-based artists battling with the Academy during the second half of the nineteenth century, Baudelaire was that individual, his essay, The Painter of Modern Life, the text.

… He claimed that ‘for the sketch of manners, the depiction of bourgeois life … [sic] there is a rapidity of movement which calls for an equal speed of execution from the artist’. …

… Baudelaire passionately believed that it was incumbent upon living artists to document their time, recognizing the unique position that a talented painter or sculptor finds him or herself in: ‘Few men are gifted with the capacity of seeing; there are fewer still who possess the power of expression …’ … He challenged artists to find in modern life ‘the eternal from the the transitory’. That, he thought, was the essential purpose of art – to capture the universal in the everyday, which was particular to their here and now: the present.

And the way to do that was by immersing oneself in the day-to-day of metropolitan living: watching, thinking, feeling and finally recording.

Will Gompertz, What Are You Looking At?, pp.28-29

The Artist’s Role…

As far as [Duchamp] was concerned, the role in society of an artist was akin to that of a philosopher; it didn’t even matter if he or she could paint or draw. An artist’s job was not to give aesthetic pleasure – designers could do that; it was to step back from the world and attempt to make sense or comment on it through the presentation of ideas that had no functional purpose other than themselves.

— Will Gompertz, What Are You Looking At? p. 10