Grayson Perry, winner of the 2003 Turner Prize, 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. Perry was the winner of the 2003 Turner Prize, and presents a major solo exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery, London, this year (2014 - 2015). Previous solo presentations include The British Museum, London (2011); 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 also curated three exhibitions, most recently the critically acclaimed Tomb of the Unknown Craftsman at the British Museum, London (2011 - 2012); Unpopular Culture, de la Warr Pavilion (then touring) (2008); and The Charms of Lincolnshire, The Collection, Lincoln (2006). In 2012 Perry created a series of six tapestries entitled The Vanity of Small Differences; these were initially displayed at Victoria Miro gallery and can currently be seen on a national and international tour led by the Arts Council Collection and British Council (until December 2014). The making of these tapestries was chronicled in a 3-part documentary on Channel 4 exploring taste and class within the UK. All in the Best Possible Taste with Grayson Perry was broadcast in June 2012 and won a BAFTA for Best Specialist Factual Programme in 2013. In June 2013 Perry was awarded a CBE in the Queen's Birthday Honours List.