Ceramic jar 'Alan Measles - God in the time of Covid-19' by Grayson Perry, 2020. In the style of a medicine 'albarello' jar featuring a narrative of fantasy lockdown experiences in black outline with polychrome glaze. Imagery includes Alan Measles (Perry’s famous teddy bear), Perry’s alter ego Claire and Professor Chris Whitty, the UK’s then Chief Medical Officer. Perry's potter's mark in black at the base.
Grayson Perry is one of the most significant artists and cultural commentators of his generation. Artworks and television series such as All in the Best Possible Taste (2013) and Who are you? (2014) have established his voice as a distinct advocate for art as a measure of society.
During the Covid-19 pandemic, Perry worked with Channel 4 to present two six-part television series of 'Grayson’s Art Club'. With a different theme each week, Perry and his wife Philippa produced new works, as well as talking with artists and celebrities, and inviting contributions from the public. The series captured the flowering of creativity and sense of optimistic communal support that characterised Britain’s first Coronavirus lockdown in 2020.
'Alan Measles – God in the Time of Covid-19' was produced during ‘fantasy’ week of the first series. Perry turned to the traditional form of a maiolica medicine jar, or albarello, to hold his ‘fears and imaginings about the situation we're in’. Albarello were used to hold drugs in historic pharmacies. Perry's jar presents a narrative of lockdown experiences featuring Alan Measles (Perry’s famous teddy bear) interacting with his alter ego Claire and Professor Chris Whitty, the UK’s then Chief Medical Officer. Other characters appear wearing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and holding rainbow signs for the NHS, both key subjects covered by the national media that became icons of the pandemic as a whole. Buildings in the background compare the rural and urban experiences of those with and without access to green space during lockdown.
In reflecting on the fantasy narrative, Perry explained this piece "was made in a time of great fear and uncertainty and the work reflects my state of mind at the time. Alan Measles, my personal metaphor for God, masculinity, care and security, is distraught because his other half [Claire] is seriously ill. His heroic efforts helping out at the hospital are mocked and disparaged by protestors wielding placards bearing monochrome rainbows. Depressed and exhausted he retreats among the homeless addicts beneath a motorway."