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Arnolfini - est 1961

As part of our mission to become more accessible and age friendly we launched Perry’s Shorts and Perry’s Tours to provide participatory experiences for local older people and GCSE drama students working with the themes and styles of Grayson Perry’s ‘The Most Popular Art Exhibition Ever!’

Perry’s Shorts

We invited GCSE students from Ashton Park School and older people to take part in a five-week community theatre project. Working with Bristol’s Part Exchange theatre Company (PECo), students paired up with older people to devise and perform a response to the themes in Grayson Perry’s exhibition. The participants spent time in the exhibition looking at particular works and then, with the help of PECo Theatre, created characters with hopes and fears, a location and other responses. These were shared with an invited audience in Arnolfini’s Light Studio on Saturday 2nd December.

Perry’s Tours

To accompany Perry’s Shorts, we also invited groups of older people to specially curated private tours of The Most Popular Art Exhibition Ever!. Group sizes were small and the pace of the tours was relaxed. The tours were followed by an opportunity to discuss and reflect upon the work over tea and cake. It was especially important to provide an opportunity like this during our busiest exhibition to date, to welcome visitors who may find busy spaces or regular standing tours challenging.

Many of our tour participants came back to view the sharing of Perry’s Shorts on 2nd December, and all of our participants across the two projects were instrumental in providing invaluable feedback on how Arnolfini can become more accessible for all ages.

The results of the project’s evaluation were overwhelmingly positive and demonstrated a marked increase in participants’ confidence when it comes to contemporary arts, public engagement and working in inter-generational contexts.

Quotations from participants include:

“It is very uplifting to be involved with artistic enterprises in my retirement, dancing, singing and drama! Working with young people is new to me (other than my own children) so this is interesting and stretching for me”

“I just wish to say booking team Rachel, Tamsin and David in particular have been so supportive and have helped us to create a fun show which is also thought provoking. Well done to everybody. A pleasure to work with everyone”

Audience members attending the final performance also responded well to the project, rating both the concept and distinctiveness of the event at 9 out of 10 on average and feeding back comments such as

“More like this to bring together generations”

“Visually arresting, inquisitive, thought provoking”

“Great levels of energy and realness by the performers. Thank you!”

Furthermore, the tours were rated at a notable average of 10 out of 10 for their relevance to contemporary issues, and all surveyed visitors provided a rating of 10 out of 10 for their enthusiasm to return to similar events in future.

Tour visitors comments included: “Delighted to be shown exhibition and have things explained. Proud that Bristol is host to such a prestigious exhibition. Relieved that accessibility is catered for” and described their experience as “Surprisingly interesting and educational”, “inspiring”, “different” and “enlightening”.

Written by Tamsin Buckley Bell and Mia Lake – Visitor Experience Assistants