The Vanity of Small Differences- Grayson Perry

Yesterday I had the great pleasure of visiting the Manchester Art Gallery, each time I go it never seems to disappoint, and this time was no exception. I came out the gallery feeling like my practice could move forward into another depth, a depth of class and in particular social class taste. I walked into Grayson Perry’s exhibition The Vanity of Small Differences and was greeting by vast tapestries; vibrant in colour and rich in detail. The Adoration of the Cage Fighters was the first tapestry which demanded my attention and I immediately noticed the décor, the pattern style of wallpaper, the carpet style, the fireplace, the fake flowers and of course the ornaments! Grayson Perry captured the very essence of that room. With impeccable detail and accuracy he absolutely nailed the room he was portraying.  The panorama view displayed on the tapestry captured every detail of that room and included yet even more accurate text of the working class people he was portraying. Embedded within the images the text starts; “I could have gone to uni..” and ends with “A normal family, a divorce or two, mental illnesses, addiction, domestic violence… the usual thing.”

Directly opposite, was the tapestry: Expulsion from number 8 Eden Close. Yet another scene I could completely relate to. The tapestry featured the typical new housing estate with matching houses and matching cars, people trying to keep up with Jones’, yet on the other side was the cultural middle class with their fancy food of olives and wine, and the William Morris wallpaper. Grayson Perry depicts these situations in such a clever way, it’s his attention to detail that really swings the humour and the accuracy. The way he uses the Cath Kidson bag in the next tapestry; The Annunciation of the Virgin Deal, and The Guardian displayed on the table, it’s so simple yet makes the image what it is. Grayson Perry portrays the image of the present in these tapestries, like the renaissance painters he so admires; he creates the tapestry of life.

Within my own work I’ve been scared of what the implications of taste can do to a piece. In my latest piece- Untitled (Ornamental Figure) the piece was heavily referred to as a statement about class- which was something I hadn’t given a second thought! But now after seeing Perry’s exhibition, it seems like there is something there, something really big there. I don’t need to be scared of what a particular taste of wallpaper can say about a piece I need to embrace that.


Chelsea’s New Home

Can’t believe I haven’t mentioned this yet! I recently received the best news! My mum only happens to work with the women who’s moved into my grandmas old house! I was so excited about this!! Mum spoke to her about the photos I’d already took and what I was doing. I couldn’t believe it when mum explained the lady was planning to strip the whole place and paint it white!! Just what I’ve been saying! She was also kind enough to say she would take some photographs for me! I was over the moon. The pictures above show the extreme before and after! What a contrast. Those memories and moments stripped away to make room for new ones. The room has been forever removed from the present. Without the picture evidence I would forever imagine that fireplace the way it was when my grandma had it, but with these images it’s evident the room has moved on; moved on into new times. I would like to say a huge thank you to Chelsea! It’s ever so kind of you to let me use these photographs. Wish you all the best in your new home!

With Ornamental Figure

I really enjoy the plinth with torn wallpaper on its own, but with the figure on top it loses its appeal. The figure gets lost and is no longer the central focal point. If I am going to leave the section at the bottom it’s going to be have to be very subtle and it could be criticised that I’m trying to replicate reality again however it could compliment the figures.

Bit of a Spanner in the Works

I went into the studio the other day just to clear out my space. Whilst I was there I thought I would start the repair work on the wallpaper plinth. I began tearing the paper off intending to take it all off  and replace it with a much neater sheet. As I started tearing the paper off I kind of liked the look of it though, it had some imprint of the wallpaper patten and you could see the magnolia paint underneath. Now I’m not sure if I actually want to go over the rip? I agree there is way too much going on with the rip falling down but just that tiny rip at the bottom of plinth I really like.

4th Plinth

The plan with these ornaments, as it was before; I want to place them on plinths, placing art works on plinths is a very “fine art” thing do. This was something that was mentioned when getting feedback on my piece; Untitled (Ornamental Figure), again the titling; a very fine art thing to do. I agreed with the majority that generally I don’t like works being Untitled however for this piece they kind of liked it. It’s very fine art way of titling, yet it was almost emphasizing the setting that the piece was in. They said that it was a statement about being made by an artist- for a contemporary art setting. When I began making the work, the use of the plinth was about taking these figures out of their home context yet bringing back somewhat of their original context by using the wallpaper. This is what I intend to bring through in the next series of  plinthed ornaments.

When I began thinking about the plinth some more I remembered the 4th Plinth; situated in London’s Trafalgar square. The plinth was originally intended to hold an equestrian statue of William IV, but remained bare due to insufficient funds. Since 1999, the plinth has become a home to temporary contemporary art works. Contemporary artists are commissioned to make works for the plinth. Some of these artist include Antony GormleyYinka Shonibare and one of my faves Rachel Whiteread! Her piece Monument is pictured above. The newest addition is Katharina Fritsch’s: Hahn/Cock. The big blue cockerel also pictured above. I really like the idea behind the 4th plinth and I think it relates really well with what I’m doing here with my wallpapered plinths.

I found some really interesting articles about it too: This one about Rachel Whiteread:

and this one about the latest Fritsch’s Hahn/Cock where it says; For Fritsch, colour is what transforms a sculpture from a naturalistic ornament into a symbol. “It evens it out, makes it abstract – like a visual sign, an icon. That is important: my work is always on the borderline between a detailed sculpture and a sign.

Look at that Detail!

And here’s the detail! I love coming back the day after to see how the drying process transforms the object; how it picks up on every detail, how the dripping paint folds upon the figure, how the dunking method allows that small part of the original figure to gleam through. Really impressed with the outcome of these! The three of them together look really good! All on different platform levels.  

It Looks like White Chocolate

So back to it! Back to dunking the ornaments in magnolia paint! Not white chocolate no Louis, but certainly looks like it. It’s actually a really fun process which I enjoy doing! I like the satisfaction of transforming the object, and the best part when the paint dries and it captures all the detail! From this little round of experiments I found that placing the objects in a plastic container helps the drying process at the bottom, beforehand the paint had dried on paper and I had to loose a lot of the paint ripping it off the paper. This way when the paint dries it’s still attached to the ornament and the dripping process can continue.


Following a 121 tutorial with my tutor last week,  it’s clear that the right direction to continue my practice in is with the ornaments. I’d been undecided about the lamp, and unsure whether to continue using other domestic objects in the same way. However my tutor reiterated what I was thinking; that the lamp does weaken it. It’s not as powerful as the figurine.

The most important point made was the strong sense of transition being made evident with the use of the magnolia paint. It’s clear that this is a very strong part of the work and I was really pleased that my tutor could pick up on the notions I was trying to portray using the magnolia paint. He made the point that it’s the way in which I manipulate the objects that they become in transition. Through my intervention the transition is apparent. I was worried that I may exhaust the idea of magnolia ornaments but he made it clear that I had only just begun, so keep going with it!

The Lights are on but Nobody’s Home- Progress

I began painting the lamp last week but wasn’t sure how well it was going to turn out. Now that the bottom half of the lamp has been painted, and the paint on the shade has fully dried I’m pretty pleased with the results! I particularly like that you can see the detail of the cracked paint.  The plinth I feel may be a little bit too tall for this piece now? I was very unsure about the light and how that functions for the look of the piece along with it’s role within the concept but the more I see it the more I’m liking it!