Grayson Perry: “As we blink in the light, leave space in your life to make art” | Life and style


WWe are often told that the arts are good for us: they improve our mental health; help us to sympathize with different people; they entertain us, educate us, soothe us and inspire us; they make us better citizens. But who makes the most of the arts? Is it the “creative industries”, the army of cultural workers who contribute to making all the glory? Is it the academics who study it, interpret it, evaluate it and talk about it? It must be the public that visits galleries, theaters and concert halls, right? The arts are for them, surely?I’ve long maintained that the people who get the most out of the arts are the ones who make them. Whether visual art, music, theater, literature, dance, moving image or comedy, making art gives us a place to distill our human experience. I am best known for visual arts and television, but have worked in all of the genres mentioned above. I went in with inane amateurism and sat on top of the pro tree, and everything. I shed tears of joy creating them all too.

Locked out, we were made to think about what is important to us, and we had plenty of time to do so. What better recipe for making art can there be? What we found when we created Grayson’s Art Club for Channel 4 was a huge wave of creativity: every week thousands of people from all walks of life send us their work. As we come to flash in the light, now is the time to leave some space in our lives for making art, whether we join a choir, a writing group, a quilting bee, a dance class, set up a studio in the hangar or make funny videos on our phones. Make a little nest for your feelings of being alive, feed them so they can soar and fly.

Most of the infrastructure to support this is in place: thousands of groups are already in place to share and encourage. The Arts Council could help fund this, and employers could subsidize cultural activity, like the 21st century equivalent of coal gangs. Any group activity is good for your mental health, but doing art together is doubly good.

The professional cultural sector will recover from this terrible blow; there is a deep hunger for the cream of human creativity. I think it’s just as important that everyone knows that making art is for them, and that the rewards increase with commitment, as with any relationship. Making art is good for you.

Grayson Perry’s The MOST Specialest Relationship exhibition opens September 15 at Victoria Miro, London W1


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