A Little Extra – The Grayson Perry Tapestries at the RA

In a previous post I mentioned in passing that at the Royal Academy’s Summer Exhibition you could also see a sequence of tapestries by Grayson Perry.

NFS. Wool, cotton, acrylic, polyester and silk tapestry. 200 x 400cm. Courtesy the artist and Victoria Miro, London © Grayson Perry. Photography © Stephen White. Royal Academy of Arts from the RA Image of the Day Pinterest.

NFS. Wool, cotton, acrylic, polyester and silk tapestry. 200 x 400cm. Courtesy the artist and Victoria Miro, London © Grayson Perry. Photography © Stephen White. Royal Academy of Arts from the RA Image on Pinterest.

Of course Grayson Perry is well-known for ceramics (his pots) for which he won the Turner Prize in 2003, but these tapestries are a change of medium rather than content. They exhibit a continuation of his challenging often acidic, social commentary in a visual form. I loved them. I had already seen the television programmes ‘All in the Best Possible Taste with Grayson Perry’ that documented his artistic process and I was thrilled to see the finished tapestries. In these works he is visually dissecting the relationship between people’s taste and their class.

The Adoration of the Cage Fighters. NFS. Wool, cotton, acrylic, polyester and silk tapestry. 200 x 400cm. Courtesy the artist and Victoria Miro, London © Grayson Perry. From www.artfund.org

The Adoration of the Cage Fighters. NFS. Wool, cotton, acrylic, polyester and silk tapestry. 200 x 400cm. Courtesy the artist and Victoria Miro, London © Grayson Perry. From http://www.artfund.org

The series called ‘The Vanity of Small Differences’, is hanging round Room X at the Royal Academy. We see six large tapestries that make a clear reference to Hogarth’s ‘A Rake’s Progress’- indeed, the protagonist in Perry’s work is called Tim Rakewell. The concept, research, working sketches and the final production of the tapestries form the four part television series.

Detail from 'The Annunciation of the Virgin Deal'.

Detail from ‘The Annunciation of the Virgin Deal’.

The size of tapestries (two metres by four metres), their vibrant colour, together with the exquisite detail and totemic elements included for each depiction of the ‘progress’, were both visually stunning and frequently amusing – well they do say the British are obsessed with class. It is quite a few centuries (despite the sincere efforts of William Morris) since tapestry was considered to be ‘the’ medium for conspicuous consumption and that of itself is precisely why this series, in this woven form, is so acute.

If you can’t get to the RA then . . .

In The Best Possible Taste on Channel 4.

Alternatively or additionally the Arts Council Collection has launched an app for iPad and iPhone produced by Aimer Media with commentary from the artist, art historical references and a guide to the making of the works. This is Grayson Perry’s first app and gives users the chance to see the tapestries up close with detailed zoom facility. The digital guide, Grayson Perry: The Vanity of Small Differences, is available from Apple’s iTunes Store (£1.99).

And, finally, Grayson Perry is to give this year’s Reith Lectures. The lectures will be broadcast in October and November as part of BBC Radio 4’s celebration of arts and culture in 2013.

Advertisements

About agnesashe

Artisan, blogger and passionate East Anglian working from home.
This entry was posted in Art History, Contemporary Culture & Design, Visual Culture as Inspiration and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to A Little Extra – The Grayson Perry Tapestries at the RA

  1. Pingback: The Reith Lectures – Grayson Perry on ‘Art’ | Agnes Ashe

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s