GRAYSON Perry braved the suddenly hot weather to open the Meet The Museums Bears special event in the Museum Gardens in full transvestite regalia yesterday evening.
"I'm not often out in this weather because, as Boy George once said, 'heat is the enemy of drag," said the Turner Prize-winning artist, who cut the red ribbon to launch York Museum Trust's contribution to the Connect 10 Museums At Night national celebration.
"Here's Alan," he said, dressed in floral dress, orange tights, lime-green platform shoes and pantomime-dame slap, as he produced Alan Measles, his childhood teddy bear that had once been the subject of a question on Pointless, the BBC1 quiz show.
"Alan would love to open this event, but he's only a piece of foam on to which I project my power fantasies," he added.
York Museums Trust has "won" Grayson Perry for the night after a record 5,500 people voted for the flamboyant sculptor and artist to come to York for the Museums At Night, defeating the votes for three London rivals, the Courtauld Gallery, the Freud Museum and the Museum of Soho.
For one night only, the bears of York Museums Trust collection joined Grayson Perry and Alan Measles for an evening of teddy bear hide-and-seek; bear-themed story-telling; face-painting (not necessarily to look like Grayson!); craft activities and music and games.
Members of the public had been invited to seek out bears from the Trust’s collections to scatter round the various galleries, while York College students had been busy making their own bears for display in the museum and gardens, their design materials ranging from Clingfilm to wood, nails to stone.
Other activities included making clay bears, making costumes and dresses for bears, learning about woolly bear moths and a catch-a-salmon-like-a-bear game. Visitors could also visit York Observatory to find out how to spot the Great Bear in the night sky and were invited to bring sandwiches and their bear for a teddy bears’ picnic on the lawn.
For those lucky enough to acquire a "golden ticket", Grayson Perry was In Conversation with London trauma clinic psychoanalyst and psychotherapist Valerie Sinason in a 45-minute session in which they discussed his life, work, childhood, play and teddy bears.
"In his relationship with Alan Measles, Grayson goes away from the sentimentality of teddy bears to show the serious side, reflecting the real meaning of childhood loss and the privileged relationship we have with our teddy bears," said Valerie beforehand.
Perry then rejoined the fun and games in the museum, chatting to the public and seeking out the bears.