Art can help us access feelings and memories beyond the reach of more humdrum pursuits. This was the message playfully conveyed by Grayson’s Art Club (Channel 4) as it returned to deliver a big Jackson Pollock-esque splash of emotion.
There were tears, there was nostalgia, there was laughter. And that was just Grayson Perry, gazing at a newly completed sculpture in which he had reimagined his childhood teddy, Alan Measles, as a cross between a Hindu deity and the Madonna half of a Madonna and Child (the babe cradled in arms represented Perry).
The piece looked like the sort of aggressive pop art you might encounter in a swanky gallery. And yet Perry, repeating his lockdown mantra that “art can get us through this crisis”, was determined to keep elitism and pretension at bay through an episode which had at its core the message that art is for everyone.
To that end, he opted for a snackable, magazine-type format as Art Club began its second series. He and wife Philippa pottered affectionately around their studio. Boy George Zoomed in to share a sparkly if slightly ferocious picture of his “disco family”. Perry sat for a portrait by iconic Sixties photographer David Bailey (who’d had his vaccine shot). Members of the public submitted art themed around the idea of family at a time of national trauma.
Perry’s default setting is a kind of chuckling incredulity so there was lots of wryness. However, the mood changed as TV presenter Anneka Rice unveiled an unsettling painting inspired by her super-secretive parents. She had a speck in her eye recalling the time her mother turned to her as they were scrubbing the dishes and casually announced that her own mother had died the previous day.