National Galleries of Scotland is staging the biggest-ever exhibition of Sir Grayson Perry’s work, at the Royal Scottish Academy, covering his 40-year career. As the only opportunity to see this exhibition, it offers an exclusive look at the celebrated artist’s lifetime of creation. An extraordinary career trajectory has taken Grayson from taking evening classes in pottery to winning the Turner Prize, presenting Channel 4 television programmes and authoring acclaimed books.
On show are more than eighty works, from his very early career – such his first plate, made in his first week of evening pottery classes, and pieces he made as a student in Portsmouth – through meticulously-detailed prints, imaginary maps and large-scale textile works such as 2009’s 15-metre Walthamstow Tapestry, imagining a birth-to-death journey through shopping and brand names. Also on show is an intricate cast-iron ship, Tomb of the Unknown Craftsman (2011), which formed the centrepiece of his 2011 exhibition London’s British Museum.
Perry’s familiar themes are evident, including masculinity, sexuality, class, religion, politics and identity in his pots, prints, sculptures, and tapestries – all imbued with his sharp wit and social commentary. Given that English identity has formed the basis of his recent Channel 4 series The Full English, and that this exhibition is in the Scottish capital, it will be especially interesting to see a recent series of pieces considering Englishness here in Scotland.