Grayson Perry

Date: 17.02.16
Author: Louise Haywood-Schiefer
Tags:, , , , , , , , ,

It was a dark, rainy late afternoon, a little more than a year ago, that I stood outside Grayson Perry’s North London studio sheltering from a downpour in a nearby porch. To arrive five minutes early to someone’s personal home/studio space is perfectly acceptable in my book, maybe even ten, fifteen is pushing it unless you’re sure there’s a designated waiting area where you won’t infringe, but a whole 35 minutes did not seem appropriate to just bounce up to his door and announce my arrival. No, I would much rather loiter in a doorway with wet feet pretending to look at google maps every time someone walks past so they won’t think I’m a burglar. As someone who is perpetually early, this scenario is not uncommon though most times thankfully there is a coffee shop nearby.
When I finally knocked on the door (somewhere between nine and seven minutes earlier than the eta), I was taken aback to find Grayson himself opening it. I had imagined there would be a flurry of activity inside, a host of studio assistants and interns forming a human chain to pass things to him as he created a masterpiece, but alas no, it was just him and me…and his friendly studio buddy who was quietly working on his own creative endeavours.

Being a fan of Grayson’s work and having particularly enjoyed his recent channel 4 documentary series on class and taste and identity, I was thrilled to have the opportunity to be there in his cosy, quiet studio taking portraits. Our paths had crossed briefly 5 years earlier on a shoot whilst I was an assistant, so it also felt like a career milestone that I should be taking the reigns myself this time.
Offering coffee and hospitality whilst showing me around and telling anecdotes about various pieces and current projects, it felt quite unlike most of my shoots with well known people, it was actually incredibly relaxed. After the shoot, I began quietly packing up whilst the interview carried on, all the while able to listen in to his insightful, unpretentious conversation scoping politics, feminism, art and much more. It felt a very intimate experience when, again, he showed us more treasures, this time a collection of wild dresses made exclusively for alter ego Clare and purchased from the up and coming St Martins fashion students who created them.

Two hours later, I am back out in the awful weather having enjoyed a rather wonderful experience. My phone is out again, but this time rather than a decoy I’m actually using google maps for it’s intended purpose, to get me home and out of the neighbours porch.

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