Are we ready for pandemic art?

Through Emma Lomas, First year history

Grayson’s Art Club is artist Grayson Perry’s containment project. As part of a television series on Channel 4, which now has 2 seasons. Perry has collected art from everyday people, other artists and celebrities, based on themes during the pandemic. It is now on display in an exhibition at the Bristol Museum and Art Gallery.

Initially, I was apprehensive. With the emergence of the Omicron variant, the pandemic seemed far from over and the last thing I wanted to do was relive the past two years. Nonetheless, I was drawn in, wondering if we were ready for pandemic art.

After a peculiar but amusing introduction (a portrait of Perry himself and a video of Harry Hill hugging trees), my fear of the pandemic turning into a glorified horror story subsided. I realized that art had a hopeful tone.

Grayson and Philippa Perry pictured with contributor Johnny Vegas | Image courtesy of Channel 4/Swan Films

The intention of the exhibition was to celebrate the creativity that had been nurtured in such a time of despair and isolation. Despite this, the first initial pieces only elicited a laugh from me, until Andy Jeffrey’s “The Covid Captive” caught my eyes. The feeling of subtle emptiness it created was extremely captivating; I was tied to the feeling of isolation and I knew others would be too.

What was amazing with the pieces in this collection was their ability to connect with people around the world – we all experienced what the artists were creating. The art was familiar – tangible.

The wide variety of mediums and artists kept the exhibit engaging without feeling disjointed. Some highlights for me were ‘Tape Loops’ by Toby Bain, ‘Daily Exercise’ by Esther Jeanes, ‘Polar Bears Swimming at Sunset’ by Gillian Mather and the ‘NHS Frontline Sketchbook: Elderly Collapse at home during Covid 19 Mark Robert Blunn .

The real success of this exhibition was its incredible accessibility and ability to easily connect its audience to the art. Isn’t the expression of the mutual human experience between the artist and the public the primary goal of art?

So to answer my question above: yes, we are ready for pandemic art. Considering this exhibit is free and virtually on-campus, it’s a must-see for any college student looking for a bit of culture on a chilly Sunday morning.

Featured Image: Channel 4/Swan Films

Will you be going to the Bristol Museum and Art Gallery to discover this exhibition?

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