Grayson Perry

Mum's the word for a hundred artists

Billy Childish, who was closely associated with the Young British Artists, but always asserted his independence, has used thick paint to capture his mother in his latest portrait (pictured). He is not alone in using his mum as inspiration for his work – there is a long tradition of artists, including Lucian Freud and David Hockney, painting or photographing their mums.

A bit of Fry and Perry launches £6m Royal Academy upgrade

The Royal Academy of Arts is seeking to bring in younger visitors and "repay our friends" with a multimillion-pound refurbishment of facilities for its members – the first step in a wider overhaul of the entire site in London's West End.

Perfect match: How the crossover between fashion and art inspires

Even the most rarefied of fashion designers is unlikely ever to describe him or herself as an artist. That would be rushing in where angels fear to tread. Art is art – a highbrow and only ever a coincidentally commercial pursuit – fashion is fashion, catering to the pretty, privileged and vain. Or so any purists out there might argue. It's a far from modern view, though. Witness the Louis Vuitton flagship store that opened on London's New Bond Street earlier this year with its Michael Landy kinetic sculpture, Damien Hirst monogrammed medicine chest and hugely successful bags designed in collaboration with Takashi Murakami to see how these two apparently very different disciplines benefit one another. Or how about the Prada Foundation in Milan, home to some of the most innovative artworks of the age. The brains behind it – Miuccia Prada and her husband, Patrizio Bertelli – are presumably more than a little aware that if designer fashion is aspirational, fine art is even more so and any association only serves to heighten the outside world's perception of a brand's status and power.

The Diary: Patrick Barlow's Star Child; Belarus Free Theatre; Jessica

London's theatres can draw a glittering crowd of guests when they want to but how deep are their pockets? We'll find out on 5 December when Theatreland hosts not one but two VIP charity galas in a dramatic date clash. In the red corner, the Almeida Theatre will stage Star Child in aid of the Art Room Charity. Catherine Tate, Stephen Mangan and Juliet Stevenson will all star in Patrick Barlow's modern-day nativity while Stephen Fry – who else? – will play a "disgruntled" God. Tickets: £75 (including post-show champagne). Meanwhile, in the blue (orange?) corner, the Young Vic will host a benefit for the Belarus Free Theatre and Index on Censorship, with tickets priced for the people at £25-45. Jude Law, Ian McKellen and Sam West are signed up as guest stars for the night, timed to chime with the Belarusian elections on 19 December. Shame they didn't check the theatre calendar too.

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Pandora: Reality TV? It's Sky News, the novel

Adam, Kay, et al: time to put in a pre-order. The former Sky newscaster Juliette Foster has allowed us a look at the synopsis of her long-awaited novel, Breaking News, and it promises to be every bit as titillating as anticipated.

The Diary: Winston Churchill; The National Trust; Aks Performing Arts;

Celia Lee, who together with John Lee has co-authored the new book, 'The Churchills: a Family Portrait' said that in the course of her research, she discovered that Churchill's mother suffered racial abuse within "elevated" Society, both in Britain and abroad. She left much of this material out of the finished book (published in America and Britain) as it would have been "highly offensive to the Americans and a disgrace to the British in the US, particularly as it would have been coming out so soon after the election of a black president". What she left out was that Jennie, Lady Randolph Churchill – the wife of Lord Randolph Churchill and mother of Winston – was treated as racially inferior because she was an American. She was talked about behind her back and dubbed "The Black Panther" because she had jet-black hair and dark blue-grey eyes and her skin was tanned from the horse riding which she adored. What marked her out as "different" when she entered a Victorian drawing room or ball was that she spoke with an American accent.