Grayson Perry Live! at Southbank Centre

Or 5 Things I Learned About Blogging From Grayson Perry
Southbank Centre is one of my favourite places to attend what I suppose I'd have to call lectures. As well as seeing Malala Yousafzai speak there, I have also attended the Vogue Festival twice, once seeing Alber Elbaz and, earlier this year, attending a discussion on taste with Lily Allen, Jasper Conran and my favourite artist, Grayson Perry. Since Southbank Centre holds such interesting events, I usually keep a close eye on their calendar to see what's coming up. However, it was in the Evening Standard a few months ago that I read about Grayson Perry's event and it seems as though everybody else read about it there too, because the seat selection was limited to say the least.

This was where I ended up. I could see nothing. As I'm sure you can imagine, it was even worse when the people in front found their seats but it's not as though I needed to see the stage. I was there to hear him speak, after all. 

Jude Kelly, Southbank Centre's artistic director, introduced him to the stage but, unfortunately, she seemed to fumble through her introduction. Perhaps the murmur from the audience when she told us that Grayson Perry was awarded the Turner Prize in 2013 alerted her to the fact that she'd made a mistake (it was 2003), as she definitely seemed to splutter and stutter her words from that point forward, relying on the note sheet in her hand.

When Grayson (I'll call him Grayson from now on. It seems strange but calling him Perry is just too formal, and typing his full name each time is starting to look odd) entered the stage, I think it's fair to say we were all blown away. Of course, being a rather eccentric transvestite, you expect something crazy but a satin clown suit with lilac pigtails was definitely not anticipated! I saw him for all of 2 seconds as he walked on stage, and then I was reduced to catching glimpses of a lilac head every few minutes.

It seems that when he was booked for the event, he didn't have a specific talk in mind. Although it was synchronised with the release of his new book, Playing to the Gallery (which we all got a copy of with our ticket), there was no point talking about the book as none of us had read it yet. Instead, inspired by his daughter who has just started working at BuzzFeed and wrote this post, he decided to talk about 13 ways to be creative. The actual name of the lecture was something along the lines of 13 Ways to be Authentically Unique and Spiritual- a dig at those words people are obsessed with at the moment.

Essentially, the hour turned into Grayson Perry careers guidance: He was telling us how to make it in a creative industry. Perhaps it was the wrong subject matter for the mostly grey-haired, academic-arty types in the audience, but I doubt he worries himself about things like that. The great thing about this, however, was that a lot of his advice applies to blogging. 

So, allow me to present 5 Things I Learned About Blogging from Grayson Perry:

Don't try to be original
Yes! I have been saying this in every single Twitter chat since I can remember. People always worry about being original. Don't. What ends up happening is you try too hard to be unique and suddenly it's not you anymore. Just be yourself and, as time passes, you will develop your own style.

Don't worry about appealing to everybody
You will never please everyone. There will always be somebody who dislikes you. This doesn't make them jealous, or a troll, or a bully. It just means they don't like you and you can't control that. So do what makes you happy because there will still be a lot of other people who do like it.

There's no shame in wanting to make money
Hey, we all have bills to pay. If you've found something you enjoy doing, and you've discovered you can make money out of it, you grab that opportunity by both hands.

Allow yourself to make mistakes
Everybody makes mistakes. Sometimes these are just a pain and there's nothing you can do about it. Usually you can learn from them and change things for next time. On occasions, the mistakes actually turn out to be better than the original idea. Feel free to take risks. If it doesn't work out, you can probably still get something out of your mistake.

Post-rationalisation is OK
Ever feel like you just want to post about cupcakes? You don't know why, and it doesn't fit your niche, but you just fancy it. Do it. Afterwards, you can rationalise your thinking. "Oh, well, you see I wanted to do a cupcake-themed lookbook and thought it would be good inspiration to bake some cupcakes first". Sorted. Basically, what I'm saying here is don't feel like you need to have a reason for anything. Just do it, and if you still feel like you need a justification, you can worry about that later.

As always, Grayson was a hugely warm, relatable speaker with an incredible sense of humour. His pace is breathtaking, and I have no idea how anybody can speak that quickly without asphyxiating. I'm sure everybody in the hall was completely transfixed by him and, before we knew it, the hour was up. 

If you're interested in art, not even Grayson Perry himself but art in general, I would strongly recommend trying to catch him speaking at some point. I promise he will change the way you look at it. 


  1. Sounds like a really interesting chat. I like the 'don't be unique' comment, that's just how I feel about the whole thing.

    1. Me too. There's no point trying to be unique if you just end up losing who you are.

  2. I'm just really happy to hear that his daughter works for buzzfeed. don't know why.

  3. I too was at the Grayson Perry talk, chat, lecture, performance and judging by your picture I was sitting a few seats down from your left. I left the RFH feeling entertained, slightly underwhelmed and slightly confused. While Grayson Perry was his unarguably engaging self, I couldn't help but wonder what the point if the chat was? I also heard a few other people as I was walking down the exit stairs saying much the same thing. While it would have been wrong to expect some kind of heavyweight, verbose and interlectually pompous lecture from the likes of clement Greenburg


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