Home » Exhibitions » Display Review: Grayson Perry, Who Are You? at the National Portrait Gallery, 25 Oct 2014 – 15 Mar 2015

Display Review: Grayson Perry, Who Are You? at the National Portrait Gallery, 25 Oct 2014 – 15 Mar 2015


Grayson Perry in front of The Ashford Hijab, a silk screenprint, which shows Muslim convert Kayleigh Khosravi and her children

The National Portrait Gallery will be displaying a series of new works by artist Grayson Perry from Saturday 25 October 2014, however it will be unlike many other displays because the works will be interspersed among the nineteenth and twentieth century Collections of the Gallery.

Grayson Perry’s new portraits are represented by a number of media including tapestry, sculptures and pots and focuses on the theme of identity. In assessing who we are ? Perry’s work considers not just individuals but families and groups.

The new works were created during the making of his Channel 4 series Grayson Perry: Who Are You?  which follows the artist as he spends time with people who are at a crossroads or crisis in their own identity, and makes works that try to capture each of them in a single, revealing image.


The display begins with an etching self-portrait as a fortified town Map of Days and a huge tapestry Comfort Blanket, a portrait of Britain ‘a portrait of Britain , things we love, and love to hate.’


The Huhne Vase is displayed opposite portraits of Gladstone and Disraeli and includes motifs of his recent court case and imprisonment.


The Earl of Essex, is a Hilliard-inspired miniature of X-Factor contestant Rylan Clark and is displayed in a showcase between the  cabinet portraits of novelists George Eliot and Wilkie Collins.


Three glazed pots depict Modern Family, Jack and John, white male parents who have adopted mixed race Shea.


Memory Jar showing Alzheimer’s disease sufferer Christopher Devas and his wife Veronica.


Idealised Heterosexual Couple, divorcees who live apart but whose family is brought together through its love of ballroom dancing.


Jesus Army Money Box, a glazed ceramic reliquary in the form of a mediaeval style  small enamelled chest depicts a Christian group that works with homeless people.


Grayson Perry is one of Britain’s best-known contemporary artists who  works in a mixture of  traditional media although specialises in  ceramics. He brings to his work a combination of humour and hard-hitting social comment, these works are playfully located around the National Portrait Gallery with plenty of references to work around them.

However underlying the playfulness is a serious investigation about identity and in a gallery surrounded by portraits, this is a perfect setting to ask those sorts of questions.

The National Portrait Gallery  has a number of interesting galleries and exhibitions at the moment, this show offers something slightly different, a small art mystery tour to locate the pieces and to view them in unusual surroundings.

A television series , Grayson Perry: Who Are You? Begins on Channel 4 on 22 October 2014

A book Playing to the Gallery: Helping Contemporary Art in its Struggle to be Understood by Grayson Perry is published by Penguin.

Visiting London Guide  Rating – Highly Recommended

 If you would like to find out more about the exhibition , visit the National Portrait Gallery website here

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