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Perry praise for 'pretty chic' Kate

The Duchess of Cambridge may be six months pregnant but her trim figure was praised by artist Grayson Perry as she carried out her first engagement of the year.

The Turner prize-winning artist described Kate, who has a series of royal engagements over the coming days, as "looking pretty chic for six months".

Wearing a dark dress with a colourful trim by the British designer Madderson, the Duchess met Perry when she visited a London primary to officially name an art studio dedicated to providing creative therapy to youngsters.

Kate is royal patron of The Art Room, the charity behind the new project, which maintains a dedicated art room in a number of schools in Oxfordshire, Edinburgh and the capital.

Perry is one of the charity's patrons and opened the art space, called the Clore Art Room, at Barlby Primary School, Ladbroke Grove, in October.

The transvestite artist is famed for his female clothes and described the black dress he was wearing for the royal event as his "lady who lunches" dress".

The new arts space at Barlby school provides therapeutic support to pupils and those from another nearby primary Oxford Gardens.

Each week up to 85 children, aged between five and 11, receive art sessions designed to provide them with self-confidence, self-esteem and independence through creativity and self-expression.

Perry said: "For me it comes down to the thing about what art is about, not about creative industries and making money - a lot of the benefit of art is doing it, interacting with who you are.

"Art is a language that gets to places that other things don't."

The artist said the art sessions allowed children to express themselves away from their sometimes "difficult lives," adding: "I identify with that myself, for me it was a refuge."

Perry went on to criticise former education secretary Michael Gove: "Often people regard art as an add on - the recent education secretary, no names, Michael Gove. Art is something you elbow off the curriculum, it's not important.

"It's a huge part of Britain plc, an essential part of life, you shouldn't think it's something for posh people."

During her visit to the school, Kate was left laughing when a little boy asked if she would like to be a bird not normally associated with royalty - a chicken.

The comment came when the Duchess joined a group of eight children, sitting on sofas in the new art room, who were proudly showing her art projects they had completed during their sessions with therapists.

Many had decorated the round faces of clocks but one little boy painted a picture of a chicken with black and yellow stripy legs.

When the Duchess said she liked the legs, the little boy asked if she would like to be the bird and she replied laughing: "Would I like to be a chicken? Maybe."

The room was named after the Clore Duffield Foundation, which has been making donations to The Art Room since 2005.

The foundation was originally established by businessman and philanthropist Sir Charles Clore and to mark its 50th anniversary, celebrated last year, it chose to meet the opening and running costs of the new Barlby art space for three years .

Sir Charles's daughter Dame Vivien Duffield, chairman of the Foundation, was invited to the visit and joined Kate, Perry and education professionals for a roundtable discussion about the work of The Art Room.

Before leaving, Kate was presented with a chair made by the youngsters and decorated with stamps donated by the royal correspondence office and received posies from a group of young children.

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