My modern hero, Grayson Perry, was once again doing something adventurous to find inspiration. In company of Channel 4, he presented 3 programs that were called “All in the Best Possible Taste with Grayson Perry”. In these programmes he visits towns and cities in England to discover and discuss what exactly we mean when we talk about ‘taste.’
The first program, in which he travels to Sunderland, was about the working class. He explains and shows that what you wear, how you decorate your house, what you buy and how you live is all determined by the group to which you belong and your context in it. He called these groups ‘tribes.’ Coming from a working class family himself, he saw a lot of things reminiscent of his past, and from before he was well known. Using these experiences he creates two tapestries and then invites the group of people he met during the making of the programme to see the final artwork that they inspired.
In the second program he visits Tunbridge Wells and Kings Hill and this time the middle-class are the topic of discussion. He is invited to a dinner party and to a tea party so he can begin to understand how the community works. “But Grayson finds that, for all the differences between the many middle class ‘taste tribes’ he meets, all of their tastes share an emotional undercurrent – a burning desire to show what good people they are. For the middle classes in particular, taste is a moral issue.”
The last episode and I think my favourite was about upper-class. I was surprised to see that people who have more wealth, often show off less, and in some cases you would never guess that they have a castle or the title of a noble, just from looking at how they appear. “He finds that upper-class taste can be as much a burden as a blessing” and that a lot of people would prefer to choose how to decorate their own house that to continue with the tradition of the family of leaving the castle of mansion “as it is.” Appropriateness was a quality that Grayson says described perfectly upper-class society. After seeing this program I was thinking how the reality is so different from the idea that we have of the upper-class, and that many middle-class who aspire to joining the upper class may not fully understand the reality.
At the end of the program, Grayson invites all the contrinutors to show the six tapestries made and inspired by this travels. The exhibition is called “The Vanity of Small Differences”. You can see them in Victoria Miro Gallery in London until August 11th.