In the Best Possible Taste - Grayson Perry
About the Show
Artist Grayson Perry explores British tastes, using his discoveries as inspiration for a work of art
Series 1 Summary
Grayson Perry has always been fascinated by taste: why people buy the things they do and wear the things they wear, and what they are trying to say about themselves when they make those choices. Grayson goes on safari through the taste tribes of Britain, not just to observe our taste, but to tell us in an artwork what it means.
The work Grayson creates is a series of six imposing tapestries called 'The Vanity of Small Differences', his personal but panoramic take on the taste of 21st-century Britain. In each episode, he embeds himself with people from across the social spectrum in a bid to get to grips with our differing takes on taste.
Grayson Perry begins his investigation of British taste in Sunderland, a city with strong working-class traditions. Originally from a working-class background himself, Perry is interested in how our family background and the class journey we take shape the way we define ourselves through what we wear and buy, and how we live.
Perry discovers a culture of flamboyant display in Sunderland, as well as some surprising 'ancestral echoes' of his own upbringing. He also confronts head-on the snobbery that surrounds many people's view of working-class taste.
Finally, Perry invites all the people he meets in Sunderland down to London for an unveiling of the artwork inspired by his experiences in their city, prompting a fascinating debate about what he has chosen to reflect back to them about their taste.
Grayson Perry embeds himself with the British middle classes in and around Tunbridge Wells. As someone originally from a working class background, but now living in middle-class Islington, Perry is fascinated by social mobility and the rise of a new middle class.
He begins his journey in Kings Hill, a new development of executive housing in Kent. He finds a world of aspirational, brand-led taste, with people keen to demarcate themselves from the working-class tastes they have left behind, but uncertain what new taste signals to send out.
'This is the class that are most aware of the meaning and status of the things that they buy... they're (the) most self-conscious,' says Grayson.
Moving on to the middle class heartland of Tunbridge Wells, Grayson explores the taste obsessions - from organic food and gastropubs to vintage furniture and dinner parties - of the traditional middle classes.
These are the Britons most acutely self-conscious about what their taste decisions say about themselves. But Grayson finds that, for all the differences between the many middle class 'taste tribes' he meets, all of their tastes share an emotional undercurrent - a burning desire to show what good people they are. For the middle classes in particular, taste is a moral issue.
Finally, Grayson invites all of the people he meets in Tunbridge Wells and Kings Hill to an unveiling of the tapestries he has made about their taste.
In his final journey to explore what our taste says about us, Grayson Perry lives amongst the upper classes of the Cotswolds in Gloucestershire, and meets The Marquess of Bath and Longleat and bohemian Detmar Blow.
'A sucker,' as he admits, 'for a crumbly old stately home,' Grayson is interested in analysing the continuing hold that upper-class taste still has on the British imagination, and wants to know whether it's still something the rest of us should aspire to.
He finds that upper-class taste can be as much a burden as a blessing. The reverence of the people he meets for tradition, ancestral inheritance and appropriateness makes Grayson wonder whether that makes it more difficult to develop taste of their own.
Turning instead to the 'new money' incomers who are increasingly buying up the Cotswolds stately homes, he asks why we assume that their taste is somehow worse than the old aristocrats' taste.
Finally, Grayson invites all of the contributors he has met to the unveiling of the tapestries he has made about their taste.
As owners of magnificent old houses, they know plenty about tapestries, but Grayson's 21st-century take on the tapestry tradition - with his own very personal take on their taste - proves very different from the tapestries they're used to.
In the Best Possible Taste - Grayson Perry synopsis
Artist Grayson Perry explores British tastes, using his discoveries as inspiration for a work of artEpisode Guide >