Grayson Perry uses the seductive qualities of ceramics and other art forms to make stealthy comments about societal injustices and hypocrisies, and to explore a variety of historical and contemporary themes. The beauty of his work is what draws us close. Covered with sgraffito drawings, handwritten and stencilled texts, photographic transfers and rich glazes, Perry's detailed pots are deeply alluring. Only when we are up close do we start to absorb narratives that might allude to dark subjects such as environmental disaster or child abuse, and even then the narrative flow can be hard to discern.
The disparity between form and content and the relationship between the pots and the images that decorate them is perhaps the most challenging incongruity of Perry's work. Yet, beyond the initial shock of an apparently benign or conservative medium carrying challenging ideas, what keeps us drawn to the work is its variety.
Perry is a great chronicler of contemporary life, drawing us in with wit, affecting sentiment and nostalgia as well as fear and anger. Autobiographical references - to the artist's childhood, his family and his transvestite alter ego Claire - can be read in tandem with debates about décor and decorum and the status of the artist versus that of the artisan, debates which Perry turns on their head.
Born in Chelmsford, Essex in 1960, Grayson Perry lives and works in London. Well known for major exhibitions such as the acclaimed Tomb of the Unknown Craftsman at the British Museum (2011 - 2012), in which he combined his own works with historical artefacts from the British Museum collection, Perry is the subject of an institutional tour in 2016 at Bonnefantenmuseum, Maastricht and ARoS Aarhus Art Museum; the major retrospective Grayson Perry: My Pretty Little Art Career is on view at The Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney until May 2016. Other recent projects include the permanent building A House for Essex, a collaboration with FAT Architecture situated in the North Essex countryside. The Arts Council Collection and British Council-led UK and international tour of The Vanity of Small Differences, Perry's monumental suite of tapestries, was most recently on display at the Pera Museum, Istanbul (2015); the making of these works was chronicled in his BAFTA winning Channel 4 series In the Best Possible Taste. The artist has received a second BAFTA for a subsequent Channel 4 series broadcast in October 2014, Grayson Perry: Who Are You?, which was accompanied by a solo presentation of works on the theme of portraiture and British identity at the National Portrait Gallery, London (2014 - 2015). Perry's previous exhibitions include solo presentations at Turner Contemporary, Margate (2015); the Musée d'Art Moderne Grand-Duc Jean, Luxembourg (2008); 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, Kanazawa, Japan (2007); Andy Warhol Museum, Pittsburgh (2006); Barbican Art Gallery, London (2002) and Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam (2002). Perry has curated the exhibitions Unpopular Culture, at the de la Warr Pavilion (then touring) (2008) and The Charms of Lincolnshire, The Collection, Lincoln (2006).
Winner of the 2003 Turner prize, Perry was elected a Royal Academician in 2012; the following year, he received a CBE in the Queen's Birthday Honours List, and in 2015 was awarded the prestigious appointments of Trustee of the British Museum and Chancellor of the University of the Arts London. In 2013 he delivered The Reith Lectures, BBC Radio 4's annual flagship talk series by leading international thinkers, to widespread acclaim. Playing to the Gallery, his ensuing book, is published by Penguin.