Grayson Perry: 'The forces are lined up against children from deprived homes going to art college'

Helen Ward

Changes to the education system mean that going to art college may become the preserve of the middle classes, Turner Prize-winning potter Grayson Perry has warned in today's TES.

Perry, who grew up in a working-class family in Essex, had been set on joining the army at 16. He told the TES that it was a teacher who suggested he try for a career in the arts, and that until then it had never occurred to him.

“There’s no shortage of people wanting to go to art college,” Perry said. “But there probably is a shortage of the right people. The best artists are very bright and that is the tragedy of it because they can come from anywhere and the forces are so lined up against people from less advantaged backgrounds from Day 1.

“I’m now a member of the Royal Academy [of Arts],” he said. “They’re an interesting cross-section… I would venture to say the majority are working-class people. They are the legacy of art education past. I don’t think it is going to be the case in the future.”

Perry has spoken out in the past about the vital role schools play in exposing children to culture – giving everyone in society the same opportunities, rather than leaving it to parental chance. And he adds that with the rise of the internet, the need to be able to understand and create images is increasingly important.

Perry has been celebrated for his pottery which depicts disturbing images on beautifully finished vases and urns. They sell for up to £120,000 a time. Recently he has created tapestries on the theme of culture and a new Channel 4 show later this year will show him making a series of portraits for the National Portrait Gallery. 

Read the full feature in the 15 August edition of TES on your tablet or phone by downloading the TES Reader app for Android or iOS. Or pick it up in all good newsagents.

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Helen Ward

Helen Ward

Helen Ward is a reporter at Tes

Find me on Twitter @teshelen

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