Turner Prize winner charts his insecurities in pottery
Friday 15 October 2004
Grayson Perry's first exhibition since winning the Turner Prize picks up where he left off when he collected the accolade dressed as his female
alter ego, Claire.
Grayson Perry's first exhibition since winning the Turner Prize picks up where he left off when he collected the accolade dressed as his female alter ego, Claire.
Making an acceptance speech in a satin dress and patent red shoes last year, he wryly commented: "It's about time a transvestite won the Turner Prize."
That quote is emblazoned inside a speech bubble on one of Perry's signature ceramic pots, and features among his new work at the Victoria Miro Gallery in London, which opened yesterday and runs until 13 November. In another artistic reference to the night, a glazed pot, entitled A Network of Cracks, recreates the seating plan of the awards ceremony.
Perry's exploration of modern-day masculinity is a dominant theme in the exhibition, which consists of 14 ornate pots, a textile work and large-scale maps on paper. "It's an interesting time to be a man. I think the traditional role of the 'utility man' has been pushed out and we have not found a good way to replace him. Everything is so up in the air for men at the moment and we are fishing around for role models. I seek to capture some of that in my work," he said.
An ornate work, Precious Boys, depicting the sartorial elegance of a group of transvestites, represents the "psychological lack" experienced by boys which leads them to "dress up" later in life.
He said: "It's looking at the reasons men dress up, and whether they know it or not, it is about not being able to access the feelings of being 'precious' as boys. Boys do not often get that experience of 'being precious' just for being children. Transvestism is partly a manifestation of that psychological lack."
Another pottery work, Black Dog, refers to Winston Churchill's famous aphorism for depression, and captures silhouetted images which represent the artist's insecurities, including an image of a terrified boy wearing a Victorian smock. "The silhouettes represent the inner voices that tell you that you are rubbish. We all carry them with us," he said.
Perry, 44, said he chose pottery as a medium because it was humble and "not macho". Sir Nicholas Serota is featured as the Pope and the art collector Charles Saatchi is emperor, with London's art galleries transformed into cathedrals on a medieval, Mappa Mundi-style pot, Balloon, which makes a metaphor of contemporary art as the 21st century's religion.
A large etching, Map of an Englishman, depicts, Perry said, the "landscape of my beliefs" in the style of a 16th-century Dutch map - the corners are labelled Anorexia Nervosa, Sex, Peace, Love and Tender.
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