Microreview: Beating the Bounds

Beating The Bounds 1
"The Queen beams as she comes face-to-face with flamboyant artist Grayson Perry as she honours 'titans' of art." The Mirror, 13 October 2016. Image Getty
Beating The Bounds 2
Boys beating the bounds near the Tower of London, early 20th century. Photograph: Gamma-Keystone via Getty images
2021 April
Robert Hamelijnck reviews Grayson Perry: Beating the Bounds, in Playing to the Gallery, Reith Lecture, Liverpool, 2013.
Author / Publisher
Robert Hamelijnck for NewsLibrary
Author Info

Robert Hamelijnck, artist, editor and free-style researcher of Fucking Good Art, a traveling artists’ magazine published on paper and online, founded in December 2003 together with Nienke Terpsma. We have a special interest in how the art world is organised, networks, self-organisation and do-it-together strategies, oral history, and anarchism.




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Reviewed Publication

Grayson Perry: Beating the Bounds, in Playing to the Gallery, Reith Lecture, Liverpool, 2013.



Seven years ago I was listening to Grayson Perry’s Reith Lecture "Playing to the Gallery". He was wearing a special-made purple dress. I’ve never heard an audience laugh so much. In one of the lectures he asks what is considered art and what not, and gives an example called "beating the bounds". This ritual goes back hundreds of years to before there were maps. The ceremony involves walking around the parish boundary and beating certain stones, trees or other marker points with a stick. To help young kids internalize the boundaries, sometimes they would even bump their heads against these markers or get a whip and beat them, in the belief that this emotional shock would help them remember.

How can the solitary—of the singular artist in his studio—become solidarity? Or have we reached the point where art as a form has mutated into something that we ourselves no longer recognize as such? All artists, I think, seek the boundaries of where art transitions into something else, something not yet defined, and thus push the picket lines in the process. Every new generation pushes it a little bit further, or back, and by doing this collectively we constantly change the map of our territory, and the definition of art. Maybe we can adopt this ritual and once a year collectively walk around the boundaries of our field and beat the markers.