Grayson Perry (or should I say Claire) is an artist, a big character and now a celebrity; he has always intrigued me. When I worked at England & co gallery, I helped organise an exhibition of his work from his time as a Neo-Naturist, an eccentric group of artists who assembled in the late 70s. Meeting him, as Claire, at the private view was exciting but less over-the-top than I imagined... he was just an ordinary albeit very talented guy with an unusual alter ego.
Interestingly, his current show at the British Museum, The Tomb of the Unknown Craftsman, shows the more discreet, human side of Grayson's character. A very personal and insightful collection of works old and new, he has selected pieces from the British Museum’s collection that illustrate or echo his beliefs and artistic obsessions and has created his own works to be displayed alongside the artefacts.
The ceramics dominate and for me have always been his most impressive work - giant colourful vases and primitive but highly decorative plates. His amazing imaginary world is explored better here than ever before. The exhibition begins and ends with epic 'sculptures', on entering we witness the 'Kenilworth AM1' motorcycle, a psychedelic vehicle created as a mobile homage for his beloved teddy, Alan Measles. As a conclusion Perry exhibits a huge cast iron boat with relics hanging meaningfully all over.
The most wonderful thing about this collection is hearing Grayson Perry's thoughts and memories. Many of his quotes are witty, insightful and resonate deeply - he speaks frankly and genuinely, leading us systematically through his work and the decisions he made curating the show.
As a lovely afterthought, we whizzed round the exhibition of German Romantic prints and drawings - a collection of subtle, beautifully detailed works, a quiet contrast to Grayson Perry's world.
Grayson Perry's show continues until 19 February 2012, more info and booking here.