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For the past two years Grayson Perry has been working
behind the scenes at the British Museum.
He is been given a free hand to choose whatever he wants
from the museum's collection of more than eight million objects.
He's also been making 25 of his own works of art,
ranging from his trademark ceramics, to a working motorbike.
The resulting exhibition - The Tomb of the Unknown Craftsman -
is as if we had stepped into the once-buried treasures
of a newly discovered civilisation.
A civilisation built entirely around the obsessions
of Grayson Perry himself.
And presided over by a mysterious God -
Perry's childhood teddy bear, Alan Measles.
Most of the things in the British Museum have been made,
on the whole, by anonymous craftsmen,
and so I wanted to somehow make their tomb.
They are not soldiers, they are creators.
All the loveliness they have made surrounds them.
In a way, the unknown craftsmen, they are there
in the British Museum.
All of their legacy.
In 2003, Grayson Perry won the Turner Prize
for his richly decorated,
and often sharply satirical ceramic pots.
Since then, Grayson, and his transvestite alter ego, Claire,
have been a fixture of the British contemporary art scene.
But this show will mark a radical departure for him,
both in the scale of its ambition,
and in the way he wants his work to be perceived.
What I'm doing here,
this pot is as much about the British Museum as anything.
One of the central kind of ideas of the show is that
the British Museum is a kind of place of pilgrimage,
a kind of temple.
This is one of the more pleasurable aspects of making a pot. Most of the hard work has been done,
I've built the pot, put on all the colours.
It's all looking quite pretty, in a kind of pottery sort of way,
but when you put the transfer on it's quite nice,
because you get quite a dramatic effect quite quickly.
I love the way that the different colours come through.
But I actually went round the museum
taking photographs of all these faces from the collection.
I'd build up the layers of transfers,
they are very sort of ephemeral and wraith-like.
If you want to get all poetic about it,
these could be like the ghosts
of all these different craftsmen coming through!
I am increasingly being dissatisfied with the context
of the contemporary art space as an arena where I want to put my work.
Things are given a spurious significance
by being in the gallery now.
It used to be you built the gallery to put this significant objects in,
now you put insignificant objects into the gallery
in order to give them significance.
That, for me, I find, that's worn out now.
When it was a novel thought 100 years ago,
when Duchamp said "artists will just be people who point,"
that was an interesting thought.
Now, it's boring. And I get a little bit tired of a lot of art
because it's not special enough.
I like the British Museum - it's full of special things.
Several of the artworks Perry has been creating
reflect his feelings about the British Museum.
The Rosetta Vase invites the viewer to decipher
the meaning of the show, in much the way that the museum's
Rosetta Stone unlocked the secrets of ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics.
But it's something of a tease.
The exhibition has been taking shape in Grayson's imagination for years.
One of the most important parts of my business is sketch books.
This is my kind of ideas, and doodles,
and what I work on slightly pissed in front of a telly.
That was going to be the poster to the show.
I don't know if it's going to be now.
I thought that kind of, this idea of the British Museum
as a kind of Tibetan monastery,
which we were all making our pilgrimage towards.
I was trying to find the very first doodle,
because what I'm building here,
is The Tomb of the Unknown Craftsman,
and a classic idea of what is an exhibition at the British Museum
is the contents of a tomb.
I was thinking, what form do I want it to take?
And I'd always wanted to make a ship.
This being an ark of craftsmanship carrying the kind of remnants,
or ideas, or skills into the future.
I imagine it being six feet long, and I want in cast iron,
and so this is quite a technically ambitious challenge for me.
So I've made this,
this is a quarter-scale maquette of how I want it.
And then comes the small matter of scaling it up.
As well as saluting the countless, nameless craftsmen
who made the objects in the British Museum,
as always, with Perry's work,
there is an autobiographical motivation too.
I mean, it might be quite interesting during
this period to try and unpick what my motivation is
for wanting to have a one-man civilisation,
or to make a tomb of the unknown craftsman.
I think it's a tomb for my father in some ways,
though he's still alive.
The kind of idealised...
The man who could do anything.
You know, the man who could build a wall,
rewire the telly...
..service the car.
I mean, I probably have an idealised idea of my father,
because he left when I was very young.
When Perry was five years old,
his mother had an affair with the milkman.
His father left the family home, and Grayson's life for ever,
leaving behind a shed full of tools, and a motorbike.
I've always loved motorcycles, all my life.
And I've always particularly liked custom motorbikes,
because I can't really build one myself, I haven't got the skills.
So I've been waiting around for the money to commission one to be built. Wow!
-The big day has arrived.
-The big day!
This is the machine.
-First impressions is, it's mighty!
-Get across it.
Get across it.
-Look at that!
-Oh my God, it's like tractortastic!
No, I love it! It's the sort of bonkersness of it.
What's interesting about the custom bike scene is that it's a relevant
and thriving example of custom craftsmanship, for the customer.
A motorcycle, or a car, is a status object for the modern man,
in the same way as a suit of armour,
or an embroidered robe would have been for a Tudor king.
So, to go to these guys and lay out a huge amount of money
on something for display seems an amazingly timeless thing to do.
I want people to sort of fight to not touch it, that's what I like.
Because with ceramics, people always want to stroke them, because they're so seductive.
So with that, that's what I want from this.
This is the whole reason for the bike,
this throne is why the bike is built basically.
The head of my personal church -
Good old Alan.
Good old Alan, well yeah, we've all got a lot to thank him for.
Alan Measles is my teddy bear.
He's coming up to 50, and he is my personal deity.
And has been since childhood, really.
He's a kind of benign dictator of my imaginary universe,
and he's a possessor of all the good qualities of man.
He's a kind of carrier of goodness and maleness.
-That's his throne.
I've made him the kind of God of my art world.
I've made quite a few works about him as God.
Because I think cuddly toys and God have a lot in common.
It's a bit like driving a very fast traction engine.
Grayson grew up in suburban Essex,
in a household now dominated by a stepfather he disliked.
Throughout this often unhappy period in his life,
he withdrew into a fantasy world,
playing games with his teddy bear - Alan Measles.
Alan Measles remains at the heart of Perry's imaginative universe to this day,
and will play a presiding role in the civilisation
he intends to create at the British Museum.
In setting myself up against the objects of the British Museum,
where a lot of those objects in the show, the people who made them
would have spent their entire lives making just that sort of object,
within a very narrow tradition.
And they attained a sort of relaxed fluency that is impossible to match
if you're only going to do that thing for a few hours,
days, or weeks.
This pot that I'm working on now is a Tomb Guardian.
The idea of a Tomb Guardian, a kind of scary figure,
that sort of stands at the entrance of something,
a warning to evil forces,
that whole idea is very prevalent in lots of different cultures,
so I thought I have got to have a bit of that.
I'm not a believer in any kind of superstition,
but I kind of, those sort of things
are the kind of bits of grit in the oyster
that start people making stuff, those beliefs.
This is kind of Alan, the dark Alan.
I wanted to put the figures there because they would mark
that you are going into a sacred space, almost,
where the tomb was, and the original conception was
you would be met by a multicultural guard force.
The monolith looks like almost a kind of Hollywood idea
of a kind of ethnographic Tomb Guardian.
You can almost imagine it being made of Styrofoam,
and Captain Kirk knocking it over to get into the tomb.
That Romanian carnival mask, I just love it,
the fact it's got a little dew drop on the end of the nose,
and it just is a very right object.
It's been made by some guys just for the local festival or something.
It's so imaginative, because it's fairly rudimentary materials,
just some pictures ripped out of old magazines,
some novelty sunglasses,
and a pair of false teeth or something,
but it's pretty potent.
And the Sheela-Na-Gig, the reason I put that in is
because I always wanted Alan Measles to have a great big hard-on,
because that's one of the kind of last taboos,
if you like, in imagery - is the erect penis.
So the Sheela-Na-Gig is a kind of riposte to all the people who,
for a second, might take offence at that,
but then they would turn and see
that 1,000 years ago, the female equivalent was hanging in a church.
The fantasy scenarios young Grayson played out with Alan Measles
were war games, which pitted boy and teddy bear
against a brutal army of invading German soldiers.
When I was a child, I had a very strong imaginary world.
All of my games were related to this imaginary world,
right from maybe the age of six or seven,
right through till I was maybe 13 or 14.
The benign dictator of that world was Alan Measles, my teddy bear,
and he was like this hovering male presence, and I was his bodyguard.
Hence me piloting his Popemobile, which is the motorbike -
the Kenilworth AM1!
In all his glory.
Alan Measles' personal, holy, religious conveyance.
Everything about it, the kind of ridiculous scale, the colour,
And it has the effect that I wanted to have. I can ask for nothing more.
Oh, I got my trousers caught in it!
This is quite fiddly.
So it might take a while.
Well, Alan Measles, when I was a child,
our enemy were the Germans,
because the Germans were the handy metaphor for the baddies.
But of course that metaphor is now worn out.
We live in a modern, 21st-century world,
and Alan is the first to admit this.
And so, he's going on a kind of mission of appeasement,
where he's going to lay to rest the childish metaphor
of England versus Germany, goodies and baddies,
and have a more nuanced approach to world peace.
He's a God of moderate and understanding reconciliation.
For the next 10 days, Grayson Perry will take Alan Measles
on a tour of Germany,
visiting celebrated sites of pilgrimage along the way.
Before he left for Germany, I caught up with Grayson
at a biker cafe in Essex.
-What do you want?
-Cup of tea, please.
Can I have one tea, milky, for him?
One bacon sandwich, and a cup of coffee for me?
So why did you want to do this journey?
Is it a journey of discovery, to some extent?
Well, I think a motorcycle as a psychic symbol
for me is very loaded.
Because my father rode a motorcycle,
and when he left, his motorcycle leant against the wall of the house
for many months after he left.
I can remember sitting on it.
It was a...
I think the motorcycle was a symbol for my father to a certain extent.
Well Alan Measles, of course, was my surrogate father in many ways.
And how do you connect this with the British Museum
exhibition at the end of this?
How much is this trip going to inform that?
In some ways, if you sort of see tourism as a modern pilgrimage,
the BM is the most popular pilgrim site in Britain.
Part of the theme of the show is the whole idea of going to the BM,
going to a museum.
What it means to look at an object, the Rosetta Stone, the famous bits.
I'm sort of interested in the celebrity artefact.
I think every artist, if they really want a full-on career,
they have to do a celebrity artefact at some point.
Damien Hirst did his shark, Antony Gormley has got Angel of the North.
-Is this your celebrity artefact?
-I don't know!
I don't know if you can predict what will become your celebrity artefact.
You're not afraid that people will think that's rather opportunist of you?
You just said you are looking to find your celebrity artefact.
I'm interested in the phenomenon of the celebrity object, because that's what a relic was.
It's about that idea that something is special.
I think a lot of art now, the only thing that qualifies it as art,
is that it is in an art gallery. I think beyond that, it is quite difficult to justify.
So that's the argument for going out on the road, and taking things out of the art gallery?
I'm interested in visual culture in the world that's extraordinary,
that's special, that's fun, that's beautiful, that's meaningful.
The pilgrimage was to depart from Perry's home town, Chelmsford,
and end at Chelmsford's German twin town, Backnang.
Alan is on his throne at the back.
He was given to me almost exactly 50 years ago, very close to this spot.
I was born in hospital just up there - St John's Hospital.
That's where I first met Alan.
-It's the mayor.
-Oh, the mayor, fantastic. Here he comes. Thank you very much for coming.
The send-off turned out to be a gathering of all the Alans,
with Grayson's peace mission given an official stamp of approval
by the Mayor of Chelmsford - Alan Arnot.
So it says here - behold Alan Measles,
keeper of all good qualities pertaining to a man.
A leader, a fighter, a sportsman, a father.
This is a personal message from myself, the Mayor of Chelmsford,
-to Dr Nopper, the Oberburgermeister of Backnang.
-Thank you very much.
-Present it to him when you arrive.
-Alan, we have to push this.
-Just push on the back.
-He won't need much of a push. Ready?
-One, two, three, push.
There you go, it's all right. Thank you. ..Oh, it started!
# Chitty Bang Bang, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang
# Chitty Bang Bang, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang
# Chitty Bang Bang, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang
# Oh you pretty Chitty Bang Bang, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, we love you... #
I had a vaguely airy fairy idea what the trip to Germany would be like.
It was like a sort of soft focus shot from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.
I'd be going along with the beautiful Bavarian Alps
flickering past in the background.
As it approaches, I am thinking "Oh no, it's going to rain for 10 days,
"and the bike is going to break down."
There is all those kind of anxieties.
# We'll glide on our motor trip
# With pride in our ownership
# The envy of all we survey
# Near Chitty, far Chitty, in our motor car
# Oh what a happy time we'll spend
# Bang Bang Chitty Chitty Bang Bang... #
Perry and Measles will be accompanied on their journey by a group of their friends,
including Grayson's psychotherapist wife, Philippa.
One of the central concerns of my work is that art is a religion.
Contemporary art is a substitute, or maybe actually is a religion.
So pilgrimage is a big part of religion, so I like the idea
that there's people doing art pilgrimages all over the world.
The Isenheim Alterpiece is an image that has been in my consciousness
since I was at school.
This is a picture that I love, I love its layers,
I love its weirdness,
it's almost kind of psychedelicness.
Well, I haven't looked yet. I'm really, really worried,
because I might be incredibly disappointed.
It's something I have been looking forward to seeing
for about 30 years.
Whenever you build something up,
the possibility of disappointment increases.
It's not too bad.
It's very difficult to see it beyond the fame of it.
It's so iconic, because it's so different from any other painting.
Things like the feet, the way they're kind of gnarled,
with that huge nail through them,
it's almost pornographic, the way he's really enjoyed the contortions.
It's like a Japanese tree that has been contorted.
As a culture, we learn to look at art through things like this.
When the go to an art gallery, we go to a special building,
to look at a special object.
That in a way, kind of gives anything a leg up into significance.
Whereas if you place it in a shopping centre,
and it still has power, then I think you are onto a winner.
If you put this in a shopping centre,
and people did not know it, they would be awed by it.
Neuschwanstein - it's in this awesomely dramatic,
And it's the absolute epitome of a castle.
MUSIC: "Ride of the Valkyries"
The more I found out about it, about King Ludvig,
this eccentric 19th-century monarch of Bavaria,
who built this place as a kind of retreat from reality,
as a kind of fantasy dedicated to Wagnerian myths.
That, for me, was the most interesting thing about it.
There is something very oppressive about this place.
I think the conception, the idea of building a fantasy castle like this is marvellous and great.
It's like he's instructed someone to come up with it.
"Oh yes, I want a huge Gothic palace, I want a Moorish room,
I want a Gothic room."
But it's been carried out without much love, somehow, in my book.
Alan is decidedly unimpressed.
We're coming into a grotto. Is it real, or is it plaster?
Here we are top of a rocky outcrop,
and he's built a grotto out of plaster.
-That is, you know...
-It's a fantastic grotto!
That someone whose grasp of authenticity is really shaky,
The aspect is superb.
Poor old Ludwig.
No, it's a very interesting relic...
..to someone's psychology. That's what's interesting about it.
This is someone's interior life writ large.
Well, today was mainly about matching up
the reality to my fantasy.
Riding into the Grayson-Perry-on-a-motorbike-shaped hole in the Alpine landscape,
and filling it up.
Because all the way along, I've held this image of me
riding through this landscape, on this bike,
and every time I see an advert,
or a particularly ugly house, it kind of jars.
But it's been a game attempt at fulfilling the fantasy.
If this is an artwork, the central image of it
is me taking Alan in his little chapel
on a very sort of mythic journey.
This is a kind of cliched mythic landscape.
You know, romantic storybook land.
I'm like this toy soldier playing out his horrible,
twisted fantasy in this wholesome landscape.
A bit like Ludvig of Bavaria!
Oh, look, you've got the bear!
-Yes, the bear.
-Me too. This is my bear.
-I see, beautiful.
Yeah, he's a god.
So he's come on a pilgrimage to this pilgrimage.
You see? Yeah.
MUSIC: "Requiem" by Mozart
When looking at a work of art, I think awe comes from the feeling -
"I couldn't do that, I couldn't make that,
"I couldn't think of that."
It's that otherness.
I look at many artworks, and think "I could do that,"
but this, it's just incredible.
Look at that door.
That's the door at the gates of heaven.
What's interesting is, what is the difference between this and kitsch?
Because this is not kitsch.
Because this has soul.
This still has its authenticity,
and it's made with complete conviction,
and it has material honesty in it.
This is passionate craftsmanship, design, artistry, belief.
This couldn't be better.
This is exactly how I imagined it. It's unbelievable.
A pilgrimage in my mind is very much a mediaeval thing.
Here I am with Alan, with my completely up-to-date pilgrimage, and here he is,
in his shrine next to this magnificent structure.
One day, maybe people will flock to see Alan on his motorbike,
I don't know.
My name is Friendly Teddy. Yay!
-This is Alan Measles, say hello.
I am a contemporary artist.
The kind of church that I have signed up to is contemporary art,
and the White Cube is the temple.
The Brandhorst Museum, in Munich,
it's a very well-done example of the modern art museum.
So it was interesting to put that in the context of all the other
sorts of pilgrimage destinations that were on our route.
The innocent delight of people at, sort of, rococo, compared to
the knowingness, and the coolness of the audience for a place like this.
They will look at every piece of dribble and cardboard
as reverently as we would look at an altarpiece at the Wieskirche.
I think there is a pair of inverted commas hanging for ever
over those people, where they look through everything through an ironic window.
Inevitably, anything I do
is in danger of ending up in a place like this.
I hope that this bike and Alan
resist that force.
We will not be ironised! We will not be contemporary art!
This is a real thing that has happened here, somehow.
GERMAN ACCENT: Herr Grayson, I presume.
So, how has it been for you so far?
It's been, you know, it's fun. It's great.
When it really works, it really works well.
I think, at the moment,
the moment for me that really crystallised the whole trip
was at the Wieskirche.
I managed to park the bike right at the entrance of the church.
There was Alan, sort of parallel with Jesus.
So is this a real pilgrimage or isn't it?
It is not an anti-pilgrimage,
it is a pilgrimage turned on its head,
in that instead of people coming to the shrine,
I am taking the shine to people.
If the mountain won't come to Mohammed...
-It's called a royal progress.
-Yes, that is what it is.
A royal progress.
-And this is your retinue.
My Chaucerian band, I like to think of them as.
That's sort of essential part of this journey?
We are the ideal family on tour.
-My ideal family.
And why is Philippa here, in particular?
What role, Philippa, would you say you have in this?
No, Philippa is a good map reader, that is what it is.
What's your observation of this trip?
What impact is it having, do you think, on Grayson?
There is a form of psychology that actually originated in Germany
It's about completing something,
about completing a whole sort of cycle of experience.
I think there was something incomplete
about those war games that Grayson played as a child
and I think this is sort of like a peace process
that completes that Gestalt.
-I like that. That feels right.
-Quite touched. It's good.
I like that. It's true. That is what it is.
It's what I always do, though.
I kind of do what I feel like I should do
and then I find out what it was about later.
The pilgrimage culminated in Chelmsford's twin town of Backnang.
You may ask, "What is this man doing?"
Backnang is twinned with Chelmsford.
I was born in Chelmsford.
Alan Measles was born in Chelmsford.
We have been together for 50 years.
And when I was a child, he fought the Germans.
Because, in my games, so here was a place
he comes to make peace with Germany
because he is old now.
I am moved by this wonderful, wonderful welcome
and send-off and I thank you all for coming very, very much. Thank you.
LIVELY BRASS BAND PLAYS
'It was just as I hoped.
'The band, nice weather,
'the mayor and the mayoress. It was all good.
'Even Backnang itself looks like a postcard of a German town.
'When it happens I quite like the fact
'when the world lives up to the cliche, lives up to the postcard.'
'I think the fact that I took Alan Measles around Germany
'is really important to this show.
'I really did it so therefore, for starters,
'when they see the motorcycle, it has been on a real journey
'which has a mythological element to it.'
Which then makes a link to the fact that the people are there,
they are coming, they are really coming to the thing.
Then there are the kind of imaginative elements to the show.
And the fact also that I have set a kind of model for them
to try out themselves.
I like the fact that people can go up and think,
"I would like to do my own pilgrimage."
Back in the UK, Perry has to finalise his selection
of some 170 pieces from the British Museum's collection.
The museum can only display around 80,000
of the more than eight million objects which it owns.
-These sort of things, yeah.
-These are the moulded ones.
I like these.
'I am a great lover of things. I still want to see the actual object.
'I think that is an important relationship to have.
'I don't think we have changed that much.
'People still come to museums, in a way, in the same spirit
'as they would have trouped to Canterbury
'to see the relics of Thomas a Becket.'
These are from the Pagoda of Mingun, just upstream from Mandalay.
'We come to see the actual thing,
'made and touched by the craftsmen of history.
'And marvel at their skill.
'I suppose I am using that impulse in trying to create an exhibition
'that suggests a pilgrimage to a place in our heads.'
This is from western India. It's a little box shrine.
Compelling that it is so reminiscent of a Gothic altarpiece.
Same kind of principle.
I think it is probably more 20th century.
The very interesting thing about this, which may interest you,
giving your concern with pilgrimage,
is that this object travelled to Tibet...
So how old is it?
It was made some time in the 11th or 12th century.
A really old one, yeah.
It doesn't get my juices going as much as that at all.
-No. There is something...
I find there is more vitality in that
and that is something I treasure more highly than refinement.
I think it is quite unsettling to curators
at the BM because it all seems vague to them,
the way I am working.
I look through the collection and go, "I like that."
They'll go, "This is the significant one with the history and narrative
"and importance." I'll go, "I like that one better."
For whatever reason.
It doesn't mean that my way of doing it is necessarily lesser,
it's just different.
I am there because I am an expert in looking.
That's my job. I look at things and I trust my intuition.
I make choices - that is why I am doing the show.
The thing I am most impressed by is the proper richness
but also the fact that there is a good eye at work.
'I definitely want to put a folk costume in
'because I have had a lifelong love of folk costumes.
'It is just finding the one I find most aesthetically appealing.'
These look quite new. Are they recent additions?
They are quite bright colours.
It is finding the costume that kind of satisfies the most boxes.
Would I want to wear it,
is it nicely made as an object
and does it have a kind of ethnographic significance?
I've just not seen one quite like this before
in terms of colour and texture.
Very subtle colour combinations.
I like these dark ones because they wrong-foot me a bit.
There is a sort of,
I suppose if you ask most people what they think folk costumes,
they would think stuff covered in this.
What I like about these is there's a more muted palette
there going on.
I would definitely go out in something like this
but I don't think they are my size.
And so I acknowledge you in your artistic quest. Good luck.
-That's great. Thank you.
-All introductions must be made.
I like the idea that if these objects were to travel nowadays,
they are still carrying the same power.
Without a doubt. It's our job to make that living.
The power only resides with the people around it.
It is in our heads, the power, not the object.
It is in both places.
It's in here, and it's here.
Your head doesn't carve that, your hands do.
As an artist, I make things and in many ways,
when I look at the cultural output of other times and places,
I am envious.
When you talk about these objects in that way,
I suppose there's a bit of me that would like it
if people talked about my things in that way.
I would like my own objects to be treated with that much respect
and to have that power, I suppose.
At a foundry in Norfolk,
Grayson gets his first look
at the completed Tomb of the Unknown Craftsman.
Tom has cast all the pieces I made in ceramic now.
We are just starting to assemble them
for a kind of, to see the sort of form,
if you like, in its entirety for the first time.
'It is an easy sentence to say,
'"Could you please cast this in iron for me?"
'It is over a year's hard work for Tom and his crew.
'For me it is like my spiritual material.
'Iron, for me, has a kind of mystique.
'It's the material of heavy manufacture.
'It's the material of sort of agriculture.
'The rusting farm machine in the corner of the field.'
Maybe shouldn't have left that until the very last!
It is really exciting to see it
because no-one has seen it all together before.
It is our year's work, and all of a sudden,
it looks like a boat, it's fantastic.
It is exciting.
If this is the Tomb of the Unknown Craftsman,
he has the archetypal tool as the kind of holy relic, if you like.
The tool that begat all tools.
In this reliquary on the top here, like a sort of jewel,
rests a real quarter-of-a-million- year-old flint hand axe.
This is a genuine 250,000- year-old flint.
Person at the BM thinks it probably came from Essex,
which is marvellously appropriate.
This is like the precious jewel.
And of all the things that I have kind of handled and seen
and discovered in my travels through the British Museum,
I think that holding one of these is the most potent and moving
experience of the whole trip.
Because when you put your hand around one of these,
it is the ergonomics of it,
you think of the way it was used and that connection, that simple,
human connection, going back all those thousands and thousands of years,
there is something amazingly potent about it.
This is, you know, this is the beginning of craftsmanship.
This is the holy grail of the craftsmen.
I have made my reliquary there and it will sit on the top.
It is kind of, the whole show rotates around this centre of this tool.
I think that's right. Everything has to be preciously handled.
Is it all right?
Mind your backs.
We are building the tomb.
It is quite a nerve-racking moment because it bears
quite a lot of responsibility for making a good exhibition.
It is the thing where I have worked,
it is the piece I've worked with the British Museum on.
It is covered in casts that either are related to things
or actually of objects in the British Museum.
It is the thing that I wanted to feel
the most kind of real.
You know, it is a real thing.
In the end, it is about whether they find is beautiful
and fascinating and gorgeous and attractive and moving.
I do think, being surrounded by all of this amazing history
and the different cultures from all over the world and,
to a certain extent, a lot of pieces from my own history,
that does add weight to this very moment.
That is what this show is about.
That is why this is the centrepiece to this show.
It's about coming on a journey through the world's culture
and also my own mythology with Alan Measles,
with works from my past and the kind of themes I am interested in.
You come to this and this is a sort of, like, yeah,
this is the end of the pilgrimage.
I like that idea that it has a real full stop to it.
Half an inch forward. That's it.
My kind of instinct, I suppose,
would be to pile it on until it was completely overwhelming.
Some of the other things, the figures in the show,
there is a lot of detail in them you can't ever see.
Because it is so covered over with stuff.
I almost feel one can sense that from when one looks at the thing.
It is like the gargoyles at the top of the cathedral,
made by the ancient craftsmen.
They knew no-one would ever see them, but somehow,
when you look at the cathedral, you know it's there.
The fact that the archetypal craftsman
in my personal mythology is my father,
that, to a certain extent, has faded.
That doesn't mean that it isn't informing me unconsciously
all the time, I am open to that idea.
In fact, I came to this museum at six years old
and we got into the lift and the man in the lift said,
"What do you want to see?" I said, "I like models."
He said, "They've got model boats in the Egyptian department."
We found the model boats and I was pretty disappointed with them.
They were pretty basic.
They weren't half as glamorous and shiny and intricate
and authentic as the ones I had at home.
I was pretty disappointed with the British Museum.
Maybe this is payback time, I don't know!
You know, making a whole show that has a model boat for a centrepiece.
I think, quite often, we are that transparent.
-Hello. How are you?
Did you do this specifically for this exhibition?
I did it specifically for this place.
-This place in this exhibition?
They are all the things I thought people might come with before.
-They come with in their head?
That could be... That says more about me, probably, than about them.
People will actually be walking around inside my head.
That is what this exhibition is about.
A walk round Grayson Perry's head.
The first three things they see, the three helmets.
People say, "Which one is the BM object?"
-You go for the middle one.
I assumed that was the BM one,
-and that you had designed this.
-Because it is quite tinselly, this.
It is a great bling hat, isn't it? I had assumed this was yours.
I thought, this looks like this is Grayson being playful.
I then discovered it's the great Ashanti chief's headdress from Ghana.
All these are solid gold and it is a great ritual object.
And it's, well, I looked at it with completely fresh eyes.
Good. If I can make YOU look at something with fresh eyes...!
When my letter came through the door and you saw my proposal,
what did you think?
What I thought of at once was Sutton Hoo.
Because the Sutton Hoo burial is really,
seems to me, the nearest thing we have got to this exhibition.
You have got this extraordinary assemblage of objects.
From Ireland to the eastern Mediterranean.
Some of them are ritual, some of them are just luxury.
Some of them we don't know at all what they are about.
-They come from all over the known world.
And they are there in that place. Something to do with one man.
I thought you were suggesting creating something very, very alike.
That's what your letter made me think of.
This is actually what all archaeology is.
-Looking at this funny grouping.
-That is very beautifully put.
I am quite touched by that, yeah.
-Now, this is...
-This I had to have in because...
-She's got to be here, hasn't she?
This still astonishes people.
Because they don't realise that here, on our doorstep...
On the church, you put this figure.
What's new to us is this kind of conversation.
These objects that we would never have put together.
And all the way through, the way you have put objects
either from different bits of the museum's collection
or with your objects,
in conversations that just couldn't happen otherwise.
Now. Now you see, Sutton Hoo was right. This is Sutton Hoo, isn't it?
-Here is the funeral ship.
-The funeral ship.
Laden with treasure and all the great things from the museum.
-The Roman dish.
-Yeah. Flood tablet.
The Ife head. This really is the shrine, isn't it?
It is the end point of the whole journey of the exhibition.
It is also the end point for the purpose of the museum, isn't it?
Here, in one place, are all these things.
And they are all travelling together for some kind of purpose.
The job of everybody coming through is to sort out what that purpose is.
Here you are, Grayson. In the British Museum.
Yeah. I don't think it has fully sunk in yet.
I have been so involved with the making of it all
that it feels like I should fit,
it should be, "Life's ambition, tick."
You know, but it doesn't quite feel like that yet.
It says this is, of course, the Tomb of the Unknown Craftsman.
You slightly don't fit that mould, do you?
Even when you arrived here, you were certainly not anonymous,
and you're going to be less anonymous by the time
this exhibition goes on display.
Yeah. It is ironic that I am, I suppose, a celebrity artist.
I said that almost as if like saying,
"I am one of these plonkers that come in on their vanity projects."
In order to highlight the fact that I am actually
tiptoeing around my own seriousness, that is what I am doing.
So I'm protecting my tender relationship with beauty
and culture from the harsh forces of the media spotlight.
I kind of say, "Ha! Yeah! This is just me having fun,"
but in fact, this is something I have dedicated my life to.
The way that you have always said, "I am a craftsman.
"I belong to this tradition. I am proud to be part of this tradition."
You have always said it.
In that sense, you do, you are here to draw attention to the rest of you.
To say, these works were made by artists, too.
Yeah, and I think it is interesting that, you know,
I am not ashamed to come from a contemporary art tribe,
but by coming here to the museum, for me, has highlighted
the very traditions and orthodoxies of the contemporary art world.
Here is a museum for a general audience
and its objects come from all different directions.
There isn't this accepted thing of, "This is a contemporary art object."
In a way I want to say, I am an artist.
I am not a contemporary artist, I am just an artist.
What's Alan's view of the exhibition?
He thinks it's entirely about him.
But there was something inescapably missing from the show.
Where was Alan Measles himself?
It is amazing to think it has been on this long journey.
-It looks pristine, doesn't it?
-It's a motorbike.
It is made for transportation and it survived very well.
-That is Alan's...
-That is not Alan.
No, that is his stunt double.
That is Pinny. She is the same age and actually from the same...
-That is Pinny?
Doesn't this sort of undermine the whole project?
I thought this was Alan Measles' project.
Why would Pinny be here and not him?
He doesn't want to sit in a museum for three months.
-I feel cheated.
I quite like the idea that, you know,
he is out there and than entity, as a god.
I didn't want to,
I almost feel like the reality might kind of...
Do you know how many precious things there are in this museum?
Worth tens of millions of pounds? Things that are priceless.
But somehow Alan Measles is so priceless you are not prepared to...
I think if we are really going to get therapeutic about this now...
It would be that I don't even trust the British Museum
to look after Alan, he's too precious.
'Grayson's refusal to part with Alan Measles reminded me
'of something I had witnessed more than a year ago in Germany.
'A sort of Rosebud moment where I'd learnt that to unlock the secrets
'of Grayson Perry's one-man civilisation,
'a teddy bear is the key.'
Big day for Alan.
'How lovely to see you. Welcome to the world of Steiff.
'It's still a little bit like it used to be.
'I was born here in Giengen in 1847.
'When I was one and a half,
'I was diagnosed with an illness that changed me.
'For children, only the best is good enough.
'Yes. That's how it all began.'
'I didn't see you there. Never mind. I am in charge here.
'Most important of all, he invented me.'
'It's so dark here and it is so creepy.
Alan is horrified. It is against all he stands for.
-'what do we do now?'
-'Shall I tell you? I have no idea.'
I am worried about him. I wonder what's going through his head.
Why is it so upsetting,
even though you might have expected it to be like this?
Because it feels kind of exploitative.
When I think of the relationship I had with my teddy,
and how completely potent and unspoken a symbol he was,
if you had asked me when I was a child, I would have expressed,
through my actions, how important he was to me
but I wouldn't have been able to put it into words.
It's testament to how precious he was that he is the only artefact
from my childhood I have.
I don't have any photos, I don't have anything else at all.
-It all resides in him?
-Yeah. It is pretty potent.
He is a serious talisman.
I think we'd better get you back for some therapy.
It was a joke that I set up Alan was a god,
but also not,
in that he is the nearest I have got to a god.
Because he is, when you, religion,
its power, is often because someone has grown up with it.
It is part of their, it has shaped them emotionally,
it's their family, society.
Therefore, it's woven into their emotional DNA when they grow up.
That is what Alan is for me, that is as near as I've got to that.
It is the same limbic system in my brain
that has embraced Alan,
that embraces religion in people who believe.
So therefore, it is a serious thing.
It is a match to a religion.
It can seem like a joke but it is coming from the same place.
MUSIC: "(Let Me Be Your) Teddy Bear" IN GERMAN
Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd
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