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Definitely in the Best Taste

Last week saw the beginning of a detailed exploration into working class taste by Grayson Perry, Turner Prize winner.

The first installment of the three part series sees Perry walk down the streets with and delve into the lives of Sunderland’s working classes to uncover the relationship between our sense of taste and our class, who in the upcoming episodes also takes us on a tour around Britain.

He focuses upon the men of the city first, and even dons a Sunderland football shirt to blend into the crowd. After discovering the meaning of a particular man’s tattoo, Perry decides to turn his attentions to the females from the North-East where he shares his, and likewise, many other people’s preconceptions of this area of the country, famous in recent years for harbouring Geordie Shore, the hit MTV reality show based around of a bunch of Geordies. He begins by describing the fake tan and constructed look, but instead of ridiculing the adopters of such styles, he forgoes these stereotypes and questions why these alter egos are put in place.

We are then invited, along with Perry, Mackem style, onto a night out in the North-East. Grayson points out the adopted ‘dream persona’ while describing the night out as the chance to see the ‘dream you’. 

After one shot of Perry in a very skimpy number (see above), he is seen wearing a flattering blue dress and even described by one man as looking better than 25% of the girls in Sunderland, something Perry takes in his stride as the night draws to a close.

The attention then turns to the clutter and tat that many of us will possess in our homes. Tat to some people, described in the past as ‘art from which the soul has departed’, the artist then points out that after hearing Susan talk about her objects there is definitely “a lot of soul in there.”

From these observations of the folk from the city, he imaginatively constructs marvelous tapestries of rich quality and depth, right down to the speakers of a car and the weaves in a girl’s dress, which is the culmination of his interpretations, loosely influenced by the work of William Hogart, of the class divide and construction of taste in Sunderland.

This show is not supposed to show us anything new as such, but succeeds in exposing us to the fact that we can often be shaped by the taste culture that we’ve been brought up around.

Definitely worth a watch, and when the second episode begins tonight he attends a dinner party in Tunbridge Wells where he will again construct two tapestries, this time focusing on middle class taste and anxieties.

All In The Best Possible Taste continues tonight at 10pm on Channel 4.

Words: Andrew Jay

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