The Science Museum has unveiled a new ceramic artwork made during the first UK COVID-19 lockdown in 2020 by artist and cultural commentator Grayson Perry.
‘Alan Measles – God in the time of Covid-19’ has been acquired by the Science Museum Group and is now on display in the Science Museum’s Medicine: The Wellcome Galleries.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, Perry worked with Channel 4 to present two six-part television series of Grayson’s Art Club. The newly acquired artwork was created during a ‘fantasy’ themed week.
The acquisition of the artwork was completed with the support of Art Fund (with a contribution from the Wolfson Foundation), the Victoria Miro Gallery, Contemporary Art Society and Hiscox Foundation.
The artwork forms part of the Science Museum’s COVID-19 display, which features objects acquired for the nation through the Group’s COVID-19 Collecting Project. Accompanying objects include empty vials used in the first mass vaccinations worldwide, signage from the Government’s daily briefings, homemade face coverings and COVID-19 testing kits.
Perry’s artwork is Inspired by historic ‘albarello’ jars used to hold drugs in hospital pharmacies. The artwork presents a narrative of lockdown experiences featuring Alan Measles (Perry’s famous teddy bear) alongside Perry’s alter ego Claire, and Professor Chris Whitty, the UK’s Chief Medical Adviser.NHS workers are depicted as part of the tableau wearing PPE and holding rainbow signs,
Perry said: “This work reflects my state of mind during a time of great fear and uncertainty. Alan Measles – my personal metaphor for God, masculinity, care and security – is shown distraught because his other half is seriously ill. His efforts helping at the hospital are mocked by protestors. Depressed and exhausted he joins a group of homeless people beneath a motorway.”
Natasha McEnroe, Keeper of Medicine at the Science Museum, said: ‘I’m delighted we have acquired Perry’s moving and beautiful artwork for Medicine: The Wellcome Galleries.
“These objects represent not only advances in diagnosis and protection against COVID-19, but now with Perry’s artwork the emotional impact of living through a public health crisis.