Gallery of past work

Sunday, 7 February 2016

Grayson Perry - The Vanity of Small Differences

I had a delightful day out on Friday in the shape of a trip to Bath - a favourite city of mine with its stunning buildings and fine views. No matter what I do when I visit, it's always a pleasure to be there. This time, there was a particular reason for going.

Shopping over, I went to see the exhibition of Grayson Perry's woven tapestries entitled The Vanity of Small Differences in the Victoria Art Gallery on Bridge Street. The works were completed in collaboration with Channel 4 Television to produce a series of three programmes entitled, All in the Best Possible Taste with Grayson Perry, broadcast in 2012. I watched this at the time and was fascinated so a chance to see the tapestries was unmissable.

Expulsion from Number 8 Eden Close

These tapestries are described by Susan Moore in the book accompanying the exhibition as being, "... a bracing walk through that taboo subject: class". They chart (remarkably without judgement) class difference and identity, kitsch and 'good taste', discomfort and certainty. I found the work at once amusing, challenging, colourful and absorbing in its detail and spent a long time looking at each tapestry and enjoying the humour and sadness in each one.

The Upper Class at Bay
The photographs above are not mine but downloaded from the Victoria Miro website as no photography was allowed in the gallery. I looked carefully at the work, read the small commentaries that accompanied each tapestry and then, on my way out, bought two books. The first was the exhibition commentary that included an outline of the project, excerpts from Perry's sketchbooks, a fold out photograph and detailed images from each of the tapestries, and observations by Suzanne Moore and by Grayson Perry himself. Although I have yet to read it all, first impressions suggest it will be a fascinating insight into the project and into his work as a whole.

The second book I bought was Grayson Perry: Portrait of the Artist as a Young Girl by Perry's friend Wendy Jones. This so far delightful biography (I'm about a third of the way through) has been my main read since my visit to Bath. The blurb describes the book as mesmerising and I can only agree, although it does include explicit accounts of aspects of his growing up that some readers might find difficult. I would recommend it to anyone who is interested in Grayson Perry's work or in the life of an artist who has wrestled with the legacy of a very troubled childhood and discovered resilience and success.


  1. Replies
    1. Oui ... six tapisseries extraordinaires ... et un homme remarkable et tourmentĂ©, peut-ĂȘtre.


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