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.

3 thoughts on “The Vanity of Small Differences- Grayson Perry

  1. I went to see this exhibition in the summer when it started it’s tour in Sunderland, after having watched the three part documentary about how Grayson made this work. I loved it and found it very moving. An incredibly true reflection of life in Britain.

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