The Vanity of Small Differences – Grayson Perry Tapestries
There was a recent series of Channel 4 documentaries entitled All in the Best Possible Taste, in which Grayson Perry spent time hob nobbing with typical representatives of the working, middle and upper classes after which experiences, he went on to make some of his large scale trademark tapestries…
Armed only with a change of frocks, a camera crew and his unique artistic antenna, Perry set out in his own inimitable way, to explore his fascination with taste and how it is interpreted, understood and displayed within each of his chosen groups.
To quote the man himself “The tapestries tell the story of class mobility, for I think nothing has as strong an influence on our aesthetic taste as the social class in which we grow up. I am interested in the politics of consumerism and the history of popular design but for this project I focus(ed) on the emotional investment we make in the things we choose to live with, wear, eat, read or drive. Class and taste run deep in our character – we care. This emotional charge is what draws me to a subject”.
Perry’s main inspiration for the work was A Rake’s Progress (1732 -33) by William Hogarth, in which over a series of eight paintings, the sad story of Tom Rakewell unfolds; a young man who inherits a fortune, loses it all and ends up in the insane asylum. Grayson also acknowledges that each of the six tapestries pays homage to one of his favourite early renaissance works.
I’ve said before that I’m a bit of a fan of Grayson Perry. I like his intelligence, honesty, straightforwardness and his ability to draw and create his own work (no small feat in these days of the charlatan artist (charlartist ?), so when my little And read that the six tapestries were on show at the Victoria Miro Gallery, I got quite excited and we are both looking forward to seeing them as soon as possible.. especially as having already seen some of his previous tapestry works I know the qualities of colour and finish we can expect.
There is a more detailed explanation of each tapestry here, if you wish to find out more, but in essence, the first two tapestries below reflect Grayson’s time with the brash and confident working classes in Sunderland, the next two his time with the hesitant and apologetic middle classes of Tonbridge Wells and the final two with the “couldn’t give two hoots either way” upper classes of Gloucestershire…