26 July 2023

Grayson Perry: Smash Hits @ National Galleries Scotland

Ugh, I love Grayson Perry (or should I say Sir GP, although I'm sure he's not a stickler for fancy titles). After seeing his thought-provoking pottery at a variety of galleries, seeing him live on his tour and marvelling at his Vanity of Small Differences tapestries, you could say I'm a bit of a super fan (along with everyone who watched his Art Club during lockdown/who's enjoyed his series Full English exploring what it means to be British). 

Our Town (2022)

Now fans can see a large collection of eighty works from his illustrious forty year career at the National Galleries of Scotland, so start organising a Glasgow trip (you can also take in the Banksy: Cut and Run at the Gallery of Modern Art). You'll get to feast your eyes on his iconic vases, including Childhood Trauma Manifesting In Later Life, which provide a social commentary on issues such as gender, class and sexuality. His prints are equally as subversive - Our Town depicts a society hooked on social media, Sponsored by You is a swipe at the Super Rich - a nightmarish neon green racing car sponsored by tax havens driven by a crazed version of his teddy Alan Measles. 

Sponsored by You (2019)

You'll be blown away by the size, detail and intelligence of his tapestries. Visitors will be treated to the rarely shown Walthamstow Tapestry (2009), a fifteen metre-long depiction of birth to death via all of the marketing that we're bombarded with during our lives. Last year I saw The Vanity of Small Differences tapestries which are truly epic - six huge tapestries which chart a class journey and include people that Perry met on his journeys for a TV series. His intricate and imaginary maps also appear, showcasing his  fasciation with cartography and questions around identity and self. 

The Upper Classes at Bay tapestry (2012)

I'm really looking forward to seeing the Tomb of the Unknown Craftsman, which was the centrepiece of Perry's 2011 exhibition at the British Museum. A sculpture of an iron ship, sailing through the afterlife, the tomb represents craftsmen throughout history and their work which has survived until present day. There's also the pink and blue Kenilworth custom-built motorbike (2010) ceremoniously transporting Alan Measles in a glass carriage. 

Tomb of the Unknown Craftsman (2011)

The final room is home to new work made especially for the exhibition - the latest pots are modelled on medieval beer mugs, a new tapestry is on display as well as a large woodcut print and more pots and plates on the theme of identity. If you watched the TV show Full English (highly recommended) you'll be happy to see objects from the docuseries alongside works on the theme of Englishness in Scotland. 

Until Sunday 12th November 2023. Tickets £19 - £5. 

Find out more about the exhibition here on the National Galleries website. 

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