By Emma Lomas, First Year History
Grayson’s Art Club is artist Grayson Perry’s lockdown project. As part of a television series on Channel 4, which now has 2 seasons. Perry has collated art from everyday people, fellow artists and celebrities, based on themes during the pandemic. It is now on display in an exhibition in the Bristol Museum and Art Gallery.
Initially, I was apprehensive. With the emergence of the Omicron variant, the pandemic felt far from over and the last thing I wanted to do was relive the past two years. Nonetheless, I was drawn in, questioning if we were ready for pandemic art.
After a peculiar but amusing introduction (a portrait of Perry himself and video of Harry Hill hugging trees), my fear of the pandemic being turned into a glorified horror story subsided. I realised the art had a hopeful tone.
The exhibition’s intention was to celebrate the creativity that had been nurtured in such a time of despair and isolation. Despite this, the first initial pieces mustered nothing more than a laugh from me, until Andy Jeffrey’s ‘The Covid Captive’ stopped my eyes darting. The feeling of subtle emptiness it created was extremely captivating; I related to the sense of isolation and I knew others would too.
What was incredible about the pieces in this collection was their ability to connect with people across the globe - we all experienced what the artists were creating. The art felt familiar - tangible.
The sheer variety of mediums and artists kept the exhibition engrossing without feeling incoherent. Some real highlights for me were ‘Tape Loops’ by Toby Bain, ‘Daily Exercise’ by Esther Jeanes, ‘Polar Bears Swimming at Sunset’ by Gillian Mather, and the ‘NHS Frontline Sketchbook: Elderly Collapse at home during Covid 19 pandemic’ by Mark Robert-Blunn.
The real success of this exhibition was its incredible accessibility and ability to connect its audience to the art with ease. Isn’t expressing the mutual human experience between artist and audience the point of art in the first place?
So, to answer my question above: yes, we are ready for pandemic art. Considering this exhibition is free and practically on campus, it's a must for any student looking for some culture on a cold Sunday morning.
Featured Image: Channel 4/Swan Films
Will you be heading to Bristol Museum and Art Gallery to check this exhibition out?