Tag Archives: Grayson Perry

A trip to Bristol


Yesterday, another OCA student Kate Aston and I went to Bristol to see the Grayson Perry exhibition, The Most Popular Exhibition Ever! I hadn’t really considered Bristol as a hub for art exhibition before, but will definitely be going back. It is much easier and cheaper to get to for me than London, and there is plenty of high quality work on show there, with the Arnolfini, Spike Island, M-Shed, The Lime Tree Gallery showing modern work, alongside the traditional museums, such as the Royal West of England, and of course, Martin Parr’s forthcoming event space.

The last time I went to the Arnolfini was for the Richard Long exhibition, which I reviewed here. Long and Perry have in common their penchant for large scale pieces and the huge rooms of the Arnolfini were an ideal location, giving the works plenty of space to breathe. The exhibition covered all three floors of the building, and it was very well attended, especially for a winter’s midweek morning – Perry is obviously a very popular artist, as per the exhibition title. Having said that, the title is really a play on words, as the exhibition looks at current popular culture of the last few years, and is very rooted in the 2010s, examining subjects like Brexit, the world of the internet and gender fluidity. I do wonder how some of the works will be seen when they become historical, rather than being contemporary. They will certainly say more about what was bothering people than many of the current, more ‘artsy’ stuff.

As we all know Grayson Perry spreads his creativity across a wide variety of media, but most of the work on display here was ceramic pots, tapestries. Most of the works were big, some were huge (see below). The ceramic pots were dotted about the building, with space to view them from all angles, which was essential as every side of the pots were covered in complex layers of colour, texture and a mind-boggling array of ideas. Minimalism is not a concept that appeals to Perry; his work tends more towards the maxim ‘If in doubt, bung it in’.  Perhaps partly for this reason, and also his overt transvestitism, the everyday subject matter and obvious political enthusiasm, he has had difficulty in being accepted by the arts establishment over the years, despite his obvious talent. Looking closely at some of his ceramics, it is hard not to be awed by his facility with colour and glazing techniques, and his riotous use of different ones within the same piece of work. I was particularly struck by the subtle gold transfers which were applied to many of the pots on top of the more obvious layers, for example.

Much has been written about Grayson Perry, and his ideas and methods, so I will not say any more about them. What really fascinated me about the exhibition was the exuberance of the work, his breadth of subject matter and materials, and his playfulness. I cam away feeling that a door had opened to me, away from the straight, unadorned photographic image. Perry lets us know that it is OK to experiment, and the more extreme and wacky, the better. This degree is a journey for me, and I should not feel constrained by current standards of what is considered the ‘right’ way of making images. If I want to embellish, alter or use multi-media alongside and within my images, that is fine. The journey is about exploration and playing with concepts, as much as producing standard images. Providing there is a clear(ish) methodology and contextualisation, anything goes.

It was a breath of fresh air!

PS, while Kate and I were thumbing through some of the books Perry has used as inspiration, we came across one called Lands End, by Ruth Claxton. Claxton’s work includes torn paper and embroidered photographs and is something I need to keep a note of for future work.


I am in love with an app

From I was introduced to the iPhone app Procam yesterday, and I think I am in love. The app itself purports to turn the iPhone into a fully functional RAW camera, and one can alter the f-stop, shutter speed and ISO to suit the conditions. However, the bit that I love is its filters section, and in particular the set of five different kaleidoscope effects. Regular readers will know that I am fascinated by the idea of using the pixels within an image to alter it while retaining the substance of the original, and this app is fantastic for doing that. The number of different patterns is almost infinite, as every slight adjustment one makes alters it completely (a bit like an old-fashioned kaleidoscope). Here are a couple of examples below.

From a tapestry wall hanging at the Bristol Grayson Perry exhibition

 From one of my test images for assignment 5

My plan is to print some of these entirely unique patterns and to use them as book covers for the associated pieces of work. I may also try printing them on fabric to see how they come out, with the possible aim of having fabric book covers as an alternative. My recent purchase of Charlotte Rivers’ (2014) Little Book of Book Making has simple instructions for this, using only household items.

Edited to add.

Further to this idea, I am also investigating ways of making handmade boxes for my assignments, particularly no. 5, which will be delicate and would benefit from some protection in transit to Barnsley. I only mention this here, as I printed out one of my patterns onto washi paper and covered some card with which to make the cover of the box. The end result is too flimsy, but the idea is sound. (I subsequently tried it with packing cardboard, which was too lumpy, and finally settled on using mount board, which has the required strength, as well as being made in several layers, which can be folded if cut correctly.) Anyway, here’s how the paper looked on the first box – not bad, at all, I think.



Rivers, Charlotte (2014) Little Book of Book Making. New York, Random House.

My social media profile portrait

For this reflection point, we are asked to write a paragraph about our social media profile portrait and to consider which aspects of ourselves remain hidden. We are also asked to produce a more honest portrait, which I will do as an addendum to this post. (I need to think through what is missing first)

I found this to be an interesting exercise. Looking at my Facebook profile, I seem to have put up 50+ self portraits in the 9 years I have belonged to the site. There are flowers, holidays and special events there, but also a lot of close-up images of me, usually smiling in a slightly jokey situation. Other people who feature include my parents, my husband and one or two friends. In three, I am drinking wine, and several are old images of myself from my younger days. The Me they show looks sociable and fun –  a person who enjoys life. In only one, do I look serious (the one with the single eye) but even then I am not giving much away. Together, the images probably don’t give an honest representation of who I am, truth be told. They are probably more representative of who I would like to be.

.Profile pix 1Profile pix 2

I then watched the first of Grayson Perry’s Channel 4 documentaries on making portraits of people, linked here , which made me reconsider what Identity might actually mean. Perry interviews four different people at length, all of whom are going through a period of great personal change, and tries to pick out some of their unique, individual qualities. It was fascinating to watch, and the end results were beautiful. In three cases, he made objects that the sitter felt expressed them clearly. In one, he admitted that he found it impossible to crack through the carapace the person had constructed around themselves, but nonetheless produced a very fine piece of work to represent the difficulties he had. I’ll say no more about it in case others want to watch the programme themselves. I will write a separate post about my thoughts on the programme’s messages.

A fellow student has suggested I read Goffmann’s The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life, so that has been added to my reading list, but my initial thoughts are that one’s public persona probably has little to do with a) who we think we are, and b) how others perceive us to be.

Edited to add, after a few days contemplation:

I did think about putting up the image of my desk as a self portrait, but felt it was a bit of a cop-out in the end. Instead, I took the image below, which is from a series  of experiments I am doing for the OCA project What does a student look like? I think it shows a more honest version of me – the serious person I usually am when I am not smiling for the camera, and also wearing the glasses I find myself using more and more these days.


Is this the person other people see though, or how I perceive myself as being seen by them?


Grayson Perry: Who Are You? Episode 1 [television programme online] Pres. Perry. Channel 4 (2014) 48 mins. At: http://www.channel4.com/programmes/grayson-perry-who-are-you/on-demand/55337-001 (Accessed on 20 May 2016)