Artist Biography - Grayson Perry
Grayson Perry, CBE (born 24 March 1960) is an English artist, known mainly for his ceramic vases. Perry’s vases have classical forms and are decorated in bright colours, depicting subjects at odds with their attractive appearance. There is a strong autobiographical element in his work, in which images of Perry as “Claire”, his female alter-ego, often appear.
Perry's childho...od has massively influenced his artwork as his stepfather was violent, and young Perry often hid in his father's old shed. During these difficult times, Perry often used his imagination, creating a fantasy life for himself to escape his own. Perry became fascinated with building model airplanes, and enjoyed riding motorcycles, sparking his love for the creative.
Perry graduated from Portsmouth Polytechnic with a BA in fine art in 1982. The artist continued to study pottery, taking evening classes which is where he met his wife, Philippa - a psychotherapist and writer.
Perry's ceramic forms and content are always juxtaposed with each other : classic Greecian-like urns bearing friezes of car-wrecks, cell-phones, supermodels, as well as more dark and literary scenes, usually pointing towards auto-biographical references. Although Perry’s vessels often contain dark and challenging subject matter, they are deeply alluring. Perry uses the seductive qualities of ceramics and other art forms to make stealthy comments about society. He investigates its pleasures as well as its injustices and flaws, all in order to explore a variety of historical and contemporary themes. Perry’s rich and detailed artworks draw the viewer in through their various narratives and an ability to evoke nostalgia and sentiment alongside fear and anger.
As well as ceramics, Perry has worked in printmaking, drawing, embroidery and other textile work, film and performance. He has written a graphic novel Cycle of Violence. The artist also published two autobiographies, Grayson Perry: Portrait of the Artist as a Young Girl in 2007 and The Descent of Man in 2016. In addition to these publications, he has made a number of documentary television programmes and has curated many exhibitions.
Perry frequently appears in public dressed as a woman, and he has described his female alter-ego variously as “a 19th century reforming matriarch, a middle-England protester for No More Art, an aero-model-maker, or an Eastern European Freedom Fighter,” and “a fortysomething woman living in a Barratt home, the kind of woman who eats ready meals and can just about sew on a button”. In his work Perry includes pictures of himself in women’s clothes: for example Mother of All Battles (1996) is a photograph of “Claire” holding a gun and wearing a dress, in ethnic eastern European style, embroidered with images of war, exhibited at his 2002 Stedelijk show.
In 2011 Grayson Perry curated the Tomb of the Unknown Craftsman at the British Museum. He was awarded the Turner Prize in 2003.