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01 January 2023

Sir Grayson Perry says he never considered turning down knighthood

01 January 2023

Sir Grayson Perry has said he never considered turning down his knighthood because “it’s more interesting to be inside the tent and you can have more fun”.

The 62-year-old artist, writer and broadcaster – known for his tapestries, ceramic works and cross-dressing – has been made a Knight Bachelor for services to the arts.

Speaking to Channel 4 News about his honour, Sir Grayson was asked if he had considered turning it down, to which he replied: “No, I mean, I’ve always been very much of the opinion that it’s more interesting to be inside the tent and you can have more fun.”

However, he said the knighthood will not stop him from being a “rebel”.

“Nowadays, we live in an age where there’s a lot of injustices on all sides,” he said.

“And I think that might be my job, I always think of myself as an equal opportunity piss-taker.”

Essex-born Sir Grayson, who calls himself a “tranny potter”, often explores fashion, conformity and prejudice in his work and appears in public as his female alter-ego, Claire.

He also explained his knighthood is “extra special” as him being named in the New Year’s Honours List is about his achievements, not class.

He said: “I’m very flattered and honoured and coming from a kind of working-class background, it kind of feels like…I’m definitely on a winning streak.

“(The knighthood) feels extra special, because it’s about what I’ve achieved, I suppose, rather than any class position I hold.

“It’s not necessarily a smooth fit, but I quite like that.

“I think it’s very cool that they’ve given it to me because you know, I could be a liability.”

Sir Grayson last night told his followers on Instagram, while posting a picture of himself wearing a medieval knight costume, that he was not “quite ready” for the news.

In 2014, he became a CBE after an investiture by the then Prince of Wales, now King, and wore what he called his “Italian mother of the bride” outfit, a midnight blue dress with a wide-brimmed black hat, for the occasion where he was recognised for services to contemporary art.

In his 2016 Channel 4 programme Grayson Perry: All Man, the dress-wearing artist put himself in three ultra-male worlds to see what their masculinity explained about the changing lives and expectations of men in modern Britain.

Other Channel 4 programmes include Why Men Wear Frocks, Grayson Perry’s Big American Road Trip, Rites of Passage, Divided Britain, and Who Are You?

His recent hit TV series Grayson’s Art Club was launched with his wife Philippa Perry, a trained artist but best known as a psychotherapist, columnist and author, in April 2020 during the pandemic.

The couple have made two series, which encouraged people to make and send in artwork and it soon had more than a million viewers each week.

In 2020, Perry won the prestigious Netherlands-based Erasmus Prize, awarded each year to an individual or institution who has made a major contribution to the arts, humanities or sciences, in Europe and beyond.

The artist was praised by judges for “demonstrating that art belongs to everybody and should not be an elitist affair” and was given what was then worth 150,000 euros (£127,000).

The largest ever retrospective of Sir Grayson’s work will take place at the Royal Scottish Academy in Edinburgh from July 22 to November 12 2023.

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