Grayson Perry 'Who Are You?' portraits set National Portrait Gallery record

More than 850,000 people are thought to have seen at least one of his artworks

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The Independent Culture

Record numbers of visitors came to admire new artworks by Grayson Perry at the National Portrait Gallery last year, it has been revealed.

The free display, launched in partnership with Channel 4 series Grayson Perry: Who Are You?, drew a quarter of a million people, while approximately 850,000 are believed to have seen at least one Perry piece as part of a gallery-wide trail.

The exhibition, which focused on the theme of identity and opened on 23 October 2014, is now the most-viewed temporary display in the gallery’s history and contributed to the 2 million plus total visitor figure for the year.

Perry’s new portraits were of individuals, families and groups trying to define who they were in modern Britain.

The Channel 4 show followed the Turner Prize-winning English artist as he spent time with people suffering identity crises and created artworks capturing each of them in a single, revealing image. TV presenter Rylan Clark, politician Chris Huhne, a young Muslim convert, a couple with Alzheimers and a trans man were all involved.


Other free displays on at the same time as Grayson Perry’s included Snowdon: A Life in View and The Real Tudors, while exhibitions Anarchy and Beauty: William Morris and his Legacy and Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize were also open.

“Grayson’s display had a considerable impact on the gallery,” said Pim Baxter, acting director of the National Portrait Gallery.

“It was clear from the number of visitors that thousands of people were enjoying his work on a daily basis and that the display drew them to parts of the gallery that they might not otherwise have explored.”

Perry, 54, is one of Britain’s most famous contemporary artists and works with a range of media from ceramics and cast iron to bronze and tapestry.

He often references his childhood and life as a transvestite in his work, while also engaging with wider social issues from class and politics to sex and religion.