Grayson’s Art Club exhibition to launch at Manchester Art Gallery this winter
25 November 2020 to 18 April 2021
Manchester Art Gallery will present an exhibition of the art works selected by artist Grayson Perry during Grayson’s Art Club, the popular Channel 4 TV series. All the works on show are very personal visual representations of lockdown, made by the public, well-known artists and celebrities. This celebration of creativity in people’s homes chronicled the changing moods of Britain in isolation, providing a unique record of this globally experienced, extraordinary time.
During lockdown, Grayson Perry, one of Britain’s foremost artists, brought the nation together through art, helping them to unleash their collective creativity as part of his TV series by Swan Films for Channel 4.
Every week, he hosted the show from his own studio – taking the country with him as he created his own new art works. Grayson and his wife Philippa talked to other famous artists and creatives about how they were spending their time in isolation and invited them to make their own works in response to this unprecedented crisis. Each week a different theme – portraits, animals, fantasy, view from my window, home, national spirit – was explored.
A key element of the series was Grayson asking members of the public to show him their own artworks which they have been making at home, talking to them via video calls and choosing artworks he loved in each episode. He received nearly 10,000 entries, an overwhelming response to his call out. The variety of responses – using canvas, paper, photography, sculpture and mixed media – showed the imagination, skill and creativity spread across the whole country. These works, alongside those of Grayson Perry, Philippa Perry and the invited well-known artists and celebrities, will be on show this winter at Manchester Art Gallery. List of artists in Notes to Editors.
Produced by Swan Films, a one-off celebratory episode of the show will air on Channel 4 this winter, allowing viewers to take a sneak peek behind the scenes of the curation and development of the Art Club exhibition at Manchester Art Gallery. Grayson will meet in person at the gallery (socially distanced, of course) with some of the public participants who had their entries selected for the exhibition, as well as some of the celebrity guests and well-known artists who joined him for the series.
Grayson Perry said: “I could not be happier with Manchester Art Gallery, the venue for the Art Club exhibition; it will be in a people’s palace of culture. All the artists who appeared on our TV series put in a lot of skill, thought and feeling into their works and I am so proud that they will get the opportunity to see their art hanging in this grand, nearly 200 year old institution.
From its inception Art Club was about the benefits of making art that are open to all. In the true spirit of the series we will be exhibiting the works grouped not by hierarchy of fame or value but grouped in themes. Each artwork will hang amongst others that talk of the shared experiences we have lived through during this extraordinary time of the Covid crisis. This show is a crystallisation of the feelings and obsessions of artists from all over the country whether it is their first painting since primary school or they are world famous.
This will be a show about the joy and solace of making art. It will also be a still moment to reflect on a situation that has affected everyone on the planet.”
Alistair Hudson, Director of Manchester Art Gallery said: Grayson’s Art Club brought the country together during lockdown, celebrating creativity in people’s homes across the country. During this extraordinary worldwide health crisis, many people sought solace in making art to express themselves with humour, pathos and imagination, encapsulating life under lockdown. The programme has clearly demonstrated the way people use art as an essential part of their lives. Art Club’s ethos chimes with that of Manchester Art Gallery, as an art school for everyone and the promotion of art for the health of society. We anticipate that the exhibition will be hugely popular and will help the Gallery rebuild itself after the devastation of the last months, whilst it will also play a key part in the re-building of society post-Covid, bringing life and soul back into the city.
Julia Gardner, artist of View from my Window said: “I am so thrilled to be showing my artwork next to people who too have felt and are feeling the impact of the virus. Grayson gave many viewers a real treat through lock down and I can’t wait to see all the works hung in a stunning gallery and visiting Manchester.”
Emma Major, artist of My View from My Window said: “I’m really excited to have my work shown in Manchester, where I studied for my first degree. I’m registered blind but have a small blurry tunnel of sight in one eye. I lost my sight 5 years ago so I know what is outside my window, but my artwork was an attempt to draw what I can ‘actually’ see now.”
Barbara Ann Swan, artist of Behind the Mask said: “I am so pleased that Manchester Art Gallery is the venue for the Grayson’s Art Club exhibition as it’s one of my favourite galleries. I have been to many exhibitions there and never dreamed that my artwork would be hanging in there. It’s a great privilege and I am so overwhelmed.”
Councillor Luthfur Rahman, Executive Member for Culture, Leisure and Skills, Manchester City Council, said: “One of the things the Covid crisis has reminded us all of, particularly during lockdown, is the value of culture. Not only is it solace for our souls – even more so during these last few months – the silence from the still closed doors of some of our cultural venues continues to remind us of the valuable part they play in normal times in helping shape and make our city a vibrant place to be.
“Grayson’s exhibition is filled with art that in its making has comforted, inspired and meant so much to all kinds of people up and down the country during lockdown, and it’s a privilege to have been chosen to host it here in Manchester. At a time when the city centre is still much quieter and less vibrant than we’re used to, we’re really excited and looking forward to safely welcoming more visitors back into the city to come and see it.”
Notes to editors:
Exhibition supported by Channel 4 and Swan Films
Admission free but advance booking required for this exhibition. Tickets will be available in November.
Manchester Art Gallery is open Wednesday to Sunday 11am–4pm
Manchester Art Gallery has shown Grayson Perry’s six tapestries The Vanity of Small Differences in 2013 and Grayson was also involved in a visual dialogues project with the Gallery’s Creative Consultants – a group of young people aged 15-18 – who co-curated a show with the two pieces by him and other objects inspired by his work in the Gallery’s collection.
Manchester Art Gallery also has works by Grayson Perry in its collection: Jane Austen in E17 (2005) and Print for a Politician (2009). The purchases were made possible thanks to generous support from The Goldstone and Livingstone Family Trusts, in memory of their parents’ friendship, together with funding from the Art Fund and support from the MLA/V&A Purchase Grant Fund. Entrance to the Forest (2002), a pair of large ceramic vases on long-term loan from a private collection, will be on display in the central atrium of the gallery.
Manchester Art Gallery is the original useful museum, initiated in 1823 by artists, as an educational institution to ensure that the city and all its people grow with creativity, imagination, health and productivity. The gallery is free and open to all people as a place of civic thinking and public imagination. It promotes art as a means to achieve social change with its origins from the Royal Manchester Institution for the Promotion of Literature, Science and the Arts. It has been at the centre of city life for nearly 200 years and has been proudly part of Manchester City Council since 1882. The gallery is for and of the people of Manchester. Through its collections, displays and public programmes it works with all our constituents to ensure creativity, care and consideration infect all aspects of the way we live.
This is an art school for everybody and for life.
List of Artists
Edmond Brooks Beckman
Hannah Grace Deller
Sue and Adrian Dent
Sir Antony Gormley
Lucilda Goulden White
Eshe and Hannah Hill
Susan Hubbard and Tyler Brown
Simran & Mandish Khebbal
Vinny Montag & Kimvi Nguyen
The Singh Twins
David Stuart Tomlinson
Annabelle Tim Hobgen