Grayson Perry outlines his support of The Art Room in his 4th and last Reith Lecture, 5 November 2013
As part of his Reith Lectures, Playing to the Gallery, Grayson Perry’s final lecture on Tuesday 5th November looked back at his journey from the unconscious child playing with paint, to the award-winning successful artist of today. As part of this lecture, I Found Myself in the Art World, Grayson talks at length about The Art Room and his discovery of our art studios. Below is an extract taken directly from Grayson’s lecture – to view the full transcript please visit www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00729d9
But art when you’re growing up, it’s serious play. And when I was a child, my fantasy world that I had where my teddy bear was the king in my fantasy world and I used to sort of always play in this big, elaborate scenario - it was my escape place, it was my survival place where I could go during frightening times in my childhood. And art, like play, can have a very serious purpose because I think one of the most serious purposes that art can have is helping children deal with the difficulties in their lives.
This year, I went to visit a charity, a marvellous charity called The Art Room. They have these very beautifully equipped art studios attached to schools and the children who are having extreme difficulties in the school can come to this art room. And the teachers there, who are also trained counsellors, they can help them and they can provide a refuge, a calm refuge where they can do some nice creative work, and they can glimpse their own creative power and perhaps reflect on the chaos of their lives.
And I loved The Art Room because it seemed to formalise my own take on the relationship of therapy and art. And it’s a very pragmatic thing as well. You know they didn’t necessarily do the sort of typical things you do where you just do a painting that ends up being tacked to the fridge at home, you know or maybe lost. They gave them things like they would get some old furniture and get them to decorate it and then take that home, or a lampshade. And of course these children often come from houses where there might not be much furniture - so that idea of presenting the family with this object that you’ve made and the pride and the kind of feeling that they’ve changed the world a little bit, I think that’s a very powerful thing.
Because art’s primary role is not as an asset group and it’s not necessarily about urban regeneration, but its most important role is probably meaning making. And for the young, that’s quite a subtle process. I mean while they’re making art, the meaning of their art and the message they’re giving and their feelings is sort of sneaking under the radar. I mean I remember my art teacher, he probably saw my unconscious leaking like some sort of stain out onto my paintings, and he probably thought art school for you.