The annual award for services to the arts will was presented to Grayson Perry at a ceremony on Friday (28 March). He is the first visual artist to receive the award, which was set up in 1988 and is voted for by the entire membership of the Circle – each of the five sections, Drama, Music, Dance, Film and Visual Arts nominates a candidate. Perry is not only the first potter to win the Turner Prize but he was also the first artist to give the prestigious Reith Lectures.
The Critics’ Circle, which makes an annual award for Services to the arts through the art of criticism upholds its integrity in practice, to foster and safeguard members’ professional interests, to provide opportunities to meet, and to support the advancement of the arts. Perry, who is as famous for his flamboyant transvestism, as he is his artwork, was recently awarded a CBE at the palace. He told an audience last month; “I googled ‘what people wear to the Palace’ and went for the sexier end. “Charles did admit to me, ‘There are a lot of my mother’s clothes I’ve been wanting to try on for a while.’”
Previous winners of the Award, the first recipient was Sir Peter Hall, have included Dame Judi Dench, Dame Helen Mirren, Sir David Lean, Alfred Brendel, Dame Alicia Markova, Sir Alan Ayckbourn, Alan Bennett, Sir Tom Stoppard, Ken Loach and two years ago Stephen Sondheim, unusual in that he is an American, but his work has enjoyed possibly greater critical acclaim here than in the United States.
Grayson Perry CBE, winner of the Turner Prize in 2003, and presenter of the 2013 Reith Lectures, titled ‘Playing to the Gallery’, is the first visual artist to receive this award in the Circle’s 101 years. This year, the Critics’ Circle Annual Award for Distinguished Services to the Arts in Britain consisted of a lunch held at Elena’s L’Etoile in Charlotte Street.