Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Suits you, sir: Grayson takes on the Default Male

Enjoyed a very entertaining performance from Grayson Perry in conversation with Miranda Sawyer at the Royal Institution of Great Britain last night. Perry was discussing his essay on the “Default Male” (ie middle aged white men in suits) in the current issue of the New Statesman, which he guest edited. Perry is certainly very perceptive in his take on how the suit denotes authority and seriousness, but is also a way of attaining invisibility and concealing how Default Man's values dominate society.

Grayson was certainly not in a suit himself, as he was wearing orange platform shoes with pink tights and one of his ‘Bo Peep’ dresses designed by St Martin’s School of Art Students. He spoke about growing up in Chelmsford and how his Dad left at four, followed by a bad relationship with his step-dad and mentioned the perpetual unease of an Essex Man like himself when confronted with Default Males in suits, thinking, “I shouldn’t be here I’m just a geezer!”

Indeed, it was nice to hear Perry’s accent frequently veer into familiar Essex glottal stops. A couple of years ago he confessed: ““I have a thick crust of Islington but if you cut me, you find Essex there. The tone of my taste decisions is often very Essex, but I put an Islington spin on them. That might be the deciding fact in my entire oeuvre.”

Other confessions included the fact that he is a “domestic patriarch” in his home, not doing as many chores as he should, and that when he went cycling, he discovered that he was “a very competitive Alpha Male.” He was also very funny about being both a personality and an artist. When art people start complaining that he’s too accessible, he says, “I have to remind them they’re in the leisure business!” As A A Gill quipped, “Let’s make Grayson Perry King and Queen of England.”