Grayson Perry's Tapestries And Pottery: Snapshots Of Modern Life

Tabish Khan
By Tabish Khan Last edited 40 months ago
Grayson Perry's Tapestries And Pottery: Snapshots Of Modern Life ★★★☆☆ 3
Kayleigh is a young woman who has converted to Islam to escape the consumerist society depicted on the left and is moving towards religion on the right of the tapestry. Image courtesy Grayson Perry and Victoria Miro
Kayleigh is a young woman who has converted to Islam to escape the consumerist society depicted on the left and is moving towards religion on the right of the tapestry. Image courtesy Grayson Perry and Victoria Miro
Chris Huhne's fall from politics is captured in a smashed and re-assembled vase featuring his numberplate and the Liberal Democrats logo. Image courtesy Grayson Perry and Victoria Miro
Chris Huhne's fall from politics is captured in a smashed and re-assembled vase featuring his numberplate and the Liberal Democrats logo. Image courtesy Grayson Perry and Victoria Miro
A girl in the process of undergoing gender reassignment is depicted as Peter Pan in the style of a Beninese sculpture. Image courtesy Grayson Perry and Victoria Miro
A girl in the process of undergoing gender reassignment is depicted as Peter Pan in the style of a Beninese sculpture. Image courtesy Grayson Perry and Victoria Miro
Rylan Clark, an X-factor contestant and winner of Celebrity Big Brother is re-imagined as the Earl of Essex. Image courtesy Grayson Perry and Victoria Miro
Rylan Clark, an X-factor contestant and winner of Celebrity Big Brother is re-imagined as the Earl of Essex. Image courtesy Grayson Perry and Victoria Miro

Londonist Rating: ★★★☆☆

Grayson Perry won the Turner prize in 2003 but it's only recently that he has transitioned into a household name. He's had an exhibition at the British Museum, delivered this year's excellent Reith lectures on accessibility in art, has a new book out and a second television series airing currently, which ties in with this exhibition.

Visitors will be greeted with Perry's own mind map featuring a rather lost looking sense of self in the middle and all aspects of his personality mapped. It feels deeply personal as it mentions struggles with middle age and the self-referential nature of the art world. Up the stairs is a mammoth tapestry based on a banknote that covers all aspects of Britishness from Top Gear to grumbling, and of course features the Queen.

Clearly Perry has lost none of his wit and willingness to poke fun at society, continuing with a vase dedicated to Chris Huhne's driving licence points scandal — it's been smashed and re-assembled as a tribute to his fall from politics. Perry also depicts a Celebrity Big Brother winner as the Earl of Essex to lampoon celebrity culture and how television stars are placed on pedestals.

But it's the subtler works that are his strongest, including a tapestry showing a young woman who converted to Islam — it shows how her faith has given her respite from the consumerist culture we live in. Similarly he identifies and provides a sympathetic portrait of war veterans, a gay couple who've adopted a baby and someone with dementia.

Perry's labelling can be a little too preachy but he establishes a connection with these people through the works, and this makes his art accessible — you don't need to have seen the TV series to appreciate them. The National Portrait Gallery does act as a sort of historical record of people who have been deemed worth remembering, and so is the perfect setting for these 14 pieces about people Perry has selected to represent today's society.

Grayson Perry: Who are you? is on at National Portrait Gallery until 15 March. Entrance to the display is free. Also still on at the National Portrait Gallery is their exhibition on the legacy of William Morris.

For more great art to see in London, see our October listings.

Last Updated 26 October 2014