Grayson Perry - Provincial Punk

I was so excited when I found out Grayson Perry was coming to Margate's Turner Contemporary. Firstly, another huge name in the art world was coming to the gallery, and secondly because I really admire how Grayson addresses the art world.

Image from ITV.com
I feel like I 'know' Grayson Perry more than other artists. He connects with the public in ways that we're comfortable with and used to. He's on the telly; making shows with ordinary members of the public, talking about real life and importantly, doing so in his down to earth and accessible way.

Going to private views can be a misleading representation of art; I often find them uncomfortable. I love going to a gallery and having conversations about art but there's a frequent degree of pretence within the art world and Grayson's book 'Playing to the Gallery' (which you can buy at Turner Contemporary's shop) investigates and discusses this, in his typically humorous approach. He firmly believes that "anyone should be eligible to enjoy art or become an artist" and makes light of people feeling like they need to be wearing the right attire, be making pompous comments in front of paintings and standing in the right circles of people in order to access art.

In this expansive survey (Grayson has said that he doesn't want it to be described as a retrospective) of his work, we are treated to some of his early work, as well as the more recent - including a tile from the Dream House. Importantly, he has always identified his practise as art and not craft. Pottery probably isn't the most typical medium to look at in a gallery; it certainly isn't one that I've taken influence from for my own art practise. However, Grayson's work not only demonstrates a huge level of artistic skill but also of conscious thought, with constructed narratives and impressive visual detail.

When I walked through the entrance to the exhibition, I was genuinely amazed by the beauty of having a collection of Grayson's pots all in one place. One room in the gallery is dedicated to the tapestries and these were much bigger and brighter than I had imagined. An element of the show at Turner Contemporary that I was pleased about was the amount of other media within the exhibited pieces. There's rarely shown films that Grayson has made, some of his sketchbooks and photographs - as well as tapestries and ceramics. I particularly liked the video of him actually making one of his pots, which really opened my eyes to how long it must take to produce them! Grayson's practise is highly skilled; he is combining the beauty of the finished pieces with funny and provocative commentaries on consumerism, class and British life. He presents us with interesting observations conveyed in the most original of ways. 

Grayson was around Margate during the opening days of the show. It was great to meet him; he was as friendly and genuine as you'd expect. He hadn't been very well at all and when he came to the preview (not dressed as Claire) he commented that it was "hard work being a transvestite". It comes as no surprise that Turner Contemporary have once again put together an amazing show. There's a lot to take in; there's an incredible level of detail to the pieces, which demands a lot of attention! I will definitely need to make multiple visits to the gallery. Grayson fits Margate very well; his quirky style and humble approach to art is refreshing and fun. The main thing I've taken from the show, that I never really expected is that, actually, pottery is pretty cool. 

The show runs until September 13th.

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