Finally the day is here for Grayson Perry and Alan Measles to open York Museum Trust’s ‘Night at the Museum’. The Turner Prize winning artist arrived today after an intense voting battle by devoted fans, choosing to come here as opposed to the Freud Museum, Courtauld Gallery and Museum of Soho, all found in London.
After the historical event sold out in only two minutes, we are live blogging from the event to share it with all those dedicated fans who failed to get tickets.
"I'm only here to support Alan Measles"
3pm: Grayson arrives as his alter ego Claire, dressed in his signature colourful smock and giant green platforms, embracing his teddy bear Alan Measles while posing for pictures.
5:30pm: Grayson has declared proceedings open, as children and adults alike have fun with teddy bear workshops in the Museum Gardens.
6:00: The picnic is in full swing, with teddy bear decorations, fun and games.
6:05: We’re inside for Grayson’s talk. He’s just come onstage for his interview. He laughingly responds to a comment about coming to York: "I don’t hate the North that much!" He goes on to describe how important his teddy bear Alan Measles is, getting him through his childhood troubles.
"Alan was the ruler of my childhood imagination."
Grayson goes on to say that he played with toy cars until he was fifteen, and this definitely led to his art career. He talks of the importance of play and accessing one’s creativity, of being daft and silly.
"You have to take your children's reactions to the world seriously."
Grayson says he projects himself into Alan Measles, as both Grayson and Alan are ‘turning a corner’ physically. Grayson is 54 but still reveres his teddy bear. He’s a bit worried about Alan being so far from home. All around us, grown adults clutch their childhood teddies.
Grayson talks about the importance of the materiality of the teddy bear over and above anything in the digital world. He berates someone he once saw taking a selfie at an art museum in front of Warhol’s Fading Star.
Grayson comments on the range of very personal teddy bears on show today.
"The minute you start making a teddy a particular individual and less plain, you lose that anonymity the teddy bear needs in order to project yourself onto it."
Grayson explains that Alan Measles used to ‘commission’ him to create things. Alan’s role has changed as Grayson’s role as an artist has changed. "Alan evolved from a king to a god, and when he became a guru holy man, that’s when I was starting to detoxify my own anger."
"Anonymity is lost with fame; when anyone I meet says they want to be famous, I say 'Try being rich first.'"
"The artist I love the most is age. Age paints the face," says Grayson. "There’s a fetishisation of perfection in this country."
Some questions from the audience: Have modern toys changed children’s relationship with toys? "Children will always find a connection to toys, whatever generation. There was one little boy who brought a junior oven glove as his favourite toy."
"Alan is just Alan, he’s not a brand. I worry that every little girl in the world is having the same Disney princess fantasy and destroys the individuality of toys."
"I'm insecure like any artist. It's hard to see one's own work with clarity."
"I always advise art students not to overprice their work. Get it out there first, get it seen, then that’s the start of your career."
One of the audience tells Grayson that one of his pots acted as an object of hope for her, much as Alan was for Grayson. "I feel very responsible for that!" says Grayson. "The art world are the people who have the power to do the exhibitions but the public are the ones who get their say on the meaning of the art."
"Artists are experimental humans"
After a night of insightful, honest and intellectual playfulness Grayson and Alan continued their teddy bear’s picnic with throngs of fans and their toys.