Born in Chelmsford, England in 1960, Grayson Perry CBE RA is celebrated for his ceramics, printed tapestries, printmaking, design and cast iron and bronze works. Perry cynically observes the complexities of class, taste and decorum and though his work is often satirical in mood, it simultaneously inspires nostalgic sentiment. He graduated from Portsmouth Polytechnic with a BA in fine arts in 1982, enrolling in an evening pottery course during his time there; it took the artist only a year before he was creating his signature vases.
Perry draws inspiration from a wide range of sources, including historical and contemporary society and an amalgamation of different global cultural practices that range from Eastern European folk art to Japanese screens. A prominent autobiographical narrative is also embedded in his pottery, graphics and fibre works, often recounting a difficult childhood, during which Perry turned to transvestism to attain solace. Though his work is often witty and humorous in approach, it paradoxically contains images of violence and other disturbing social issues, as well tackling subjects that are universally recognizable such as identity, gender, social status, sexuality and religion.
Akin to his ceramics and fibre works, Perry’s graphics combine his personal world view with a fantastical cacophony of other ideas and preoccupations; these are delicately weaved together and executed as ever with his totally idiosyncratic flair and meticulous eye for detail. His iconic etchings are rendered using a Rapidograph or ‘technical’ pen on acetate that is subsequently transferred to the metal plate using photo-etching methods, as opposed to drawing directly on to the plate. Drawing in ink on acetate is more practical, portable and fluid than using an etching tool on metal, which allows Perry to fully demonstrate his exceptional draughtsmanship.
In 2003, Perry was the first ceramicist to win the Turner Prize. In 2016, his critically acclaimed book The Descent of Man was released. He was elected a Royal Academician in 2012 and received a CBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List in 2013. Perry has also been appointed as a Trustee of the British Museum and Chancellor of the University of the Arts London (both in 2015) and received a RIBA Honorary Fellowship in 2016. He has had solo exhibitions at Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam, the Barbican Centre, the British Museumand the Serpentine Gallery in London, the Arnolfini in Bristol, The Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh and the 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, Kanazawa, Japan. His work is also held in many major private and museum collections, such as Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam; The British Museum, British Council and Arts Council,Crafts Council, Tate Collection and Victoria and Albert Museum, London; Bonnefanten Museum, Maastricht; Museum of Modern Art, New York; National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne and Yale Center for British Art, New Haven among many others. The artist currently lives and works in London.