Artist Grayson Perry is in danger of becoming a national treasure after his glorious Channel 4 series about taste and class in Britain. Born in Essex, he has lived and worked in London for more than 30 years.
You’ve been spotted cycling around town on a Boris bike…
‘In a frock? I like the Boris bike in a frock because they’re very trannyfriendly. They’re all covered up, so you don’t get oil on your nice socks.’
What’s your earliest memory of London?
‘Probably visiting with my mother. I was seven or eight, and we came into Liverpool Street. It’s the black sootiness of it all that I remember. I miss that. I never think the buildings look right, all scrubbed up.’
In the early ’80s you were part of the Blitz club scene in Soho. Were you a hipster?
‘I was actually a little bit of a yokel, but I knew a few of the people involved in the New Romantic thing. I was there to just about witness the end of Soho as a vibrant, messy, slightly illegal place.’
Are you sad for the passing of that?
‘It’s the dead hand of corporatisation. It’s very hard to preserve a kind of bohemian edge to an area.’
Your studio is in Walthamstow. If money was no object, where would you work?
‘Ooh that’s a good question. I’m a bit envious of Howard Hodgkin’s studio near the British Museum.’
What keeps you in London?
‘I think the only reason people stay in London is because of the people. Everything else is shit. The food is quite nice. Very expensive, of course. I was just in France and the food was appalling.’
To which historical era of London would you travel in a time machine?
‘End of the nineteenth century, when London was at the height of its power. I’d hang out with Oscar Wilde and Aubrey Beardsley. From a tranny’s point of view, the clothes were very good.’
Grayson Perry currently has work on exhibit at the William Morris Gallery; for more info, see timeout.com.