For a long time, I didn't know what to make of Grayson Perry. Obviously the first things that come to mind are transvestite, ceramisist, author, lecturer and just plain odd bod who in many senses was ahead of his time. Some thought he cut a grotesque figure; a part 'Alice in Wonderland', part Jimmy Saville image (pre our understanding of what a prolific monster JS was); some considered him as just an exhibitionist, using cheap gimmics to get a place in the spotlight. I must admit to not paying a lot of attention to his life and works until I recently watched some of his old documentries on Channel 4, notably Grayson Perry: Who Are You? (best to watch the series on All Four). I found Perry to be an interesting character, who likes to experience every aspect of the human condition. I watched him undertake a ceramic piece, starring disgraced politician Chris Huhne, whom he dealt with fairly reasonably; I don't know whether it was intentional but Huhne in his 'entitled' middle class arrogance, came across as a complete and utter dick.
I know that conceptual art is not everyone's bag; a lot of people like art to properly represent the vision of life i.e. the old masters, or traditional still life paintings etc. or that the painting speaks to them on a personal level. There is nothing wrong with that. I can appreciate traditional art and marvel at artists who have captured photo realism, but I am increasingly drawn to artists whose art tells a story. My interests have included Tracey Emin's Bed and Everyone I Have Ever Slept With tent; Fiona Banner Written Portraits (which doesnt confuse me anymore) some of Damien Hurst.
I came across one of Perry's exhibitions entitled Essex House Tapestries: The Life of Julie Cope 2015. I absolutely love this idea; a complete instalation within and including the house that Perry commisioned. It is the fictional tale of Julie Cope, a bright working class girl made good. Her second husband makes a shrine dedicated to his late wife's life (the death has a form of black humour to it; Cope dies after being "mown down on Colchester High Street by a Honda moped carrying a takeaway curry") and the instalation is described as being an "intimate and personal exploration of an 'average life'".It is a combination of tapestries, woodcuts, photographs, drawings, ceramics and tiles in a 'surreal' gingerbread house overlooking the Stourness estuary in Wrabness, north east Essex. In a sense, he has avoided the cliche and thus making a similacra of modern life via creating 'Julie Cope - Everywoman'and instead cleverly recreates a captivating story, using observations of the human condition and blending aspects of his own life. I was amazed by the sheer breadth of this project and the house is available to rent, I believe.
Sometimes it is good to come away from the conventional understanding of art and listen to the stories behind it. It sparks the imagination and I (for one) applaud it.
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