At this month’s meeting Ian Swankie gave us an informative, thought provoking and, at times, entertaining insight into the character inside the flamboyant frocks. He examined Grayson Perry’s works in ceramics, prints, textiles and tapestries as well as his exciting exhibitions.
Ian began by revealing how Perry lived in a fantasy world of his own during a troubled childhood. The encouragement of his art teacher led him to study art, leading to his fine Art Degree from Portsmouth College of Art and Design. At one stage, after graduating, he shared a house with Boy George and Stephen Jones, the milliner and they would compete to see who wore the most outrageous outfits to a nightclub. So began his journey from a rebellious, punk, transvestite, potter from Chelmsford to a ’national treasure’.
He started producing bizarre, outrageous and colourful work in his pots that were soon noticed by London galleries. His work referenced several ceramic traditions and was not just decorative and useful but a vehicle to express ideas. “I like the whole iconography of pottery. It hasn’t got any big pretensions to being great public works of art and, no matter how brash a statement I make, on a pot, it will always have a certain humility”. Perry, who likes to wear women’s clothes and feels safe when doing so, is married to a psychotherapist with whom he has one daughter.
He has added tapestry and architecture to his intricate work, through which he conveys mixed messages of our history and our current economic world. He has also presented programmes for television exploring his life, its difficulties and pleasures as well as comparing how people deal with life events in Britain and around the world. The V & A have bought two of his recent pots with images of the future of English history, through the lens of the current political chaos surrounding Brexit.
At next month’s meeting, on Thursday December 5 at 2pm in Grayshott Village Hall, Sarah Lenton will take us on a virtual reality trip around the Royal Opera House at Christmas.