Grayson Perry – Provincial Punk

Grayson Perry, our favourite cross-dressing Britart phenomenon, will be fixing his lipstick for his one-woman show at the Turner Contemporary in Margate. You go girl...


Grayson Perry occupies a pretty rarefied place in the British art world. An adept chronicler of everyday contemporary culture and a skilled draughtsman, potter and designer, he has managed to become much loved and sought after despite fiercely dividing opinion. 

This month sees the opening of 'Grayson Perry: Provincial Punk', a mini retrospective of Perry’s work at the Turner Contemporary in Margate, on England's Kent coast. A carefully edited selection of both unseen and well known pieces will chart Perry's progression from relative obscurity in 1980s Britain to high profile Turner Prize winner and celebrity with ultra-collectable artworks. 

TOP: Limited edition silk scarf, part of a small range of accessories produced exclusively for Turner Contemporary
ABOVE: 'Good Taste and Bad Taste' ceramic vase, 2007
BELOW: 'Early English Motorcycle Helmet' 2011

BELOW FROM TOP: Perry's alter ego 'Claire' steps out in style; A scene from Super 8 movie 'Bungalow Depression' 1984

Perry’s earlier outsider status informed his work right from the beginning as he embraced the DIY spirit of punk and utilised it to create thought-provoking and often controversial work. 

'I was a punk in the provincial sense. I was there in my bedroom with an old school shirt stencilling the word ‘hate’ onto it, looking out onto the lush turf of the north Essex countryside. Then, when I came to London, I was hanging out with people who were at the cutting edge of fashion – BodyMap, John Maybury, Cerith Wyn Evans, Stephen Jones and Michael Clark were part of my social circle at the time. And yet I was making pottery… with a Shetland woolly jumper view of the world and that was funny.

The idea of ‘Provincial Punk’ is an oxymoron but it encapsulates creatively some sort of spirit in my work that still goes on to this day. It is a very creative force, a willingness to turn things over, to not accept the fashion and to have a bit of fun. It is a kind of teasing rebellion; it is not a violent revolution.' 

At Turner Contemporary, Perry's famous ceramics will take centre stage, gleefully mixing cosy imagery with provocative text and sexually charged illustrations. Early ventures into movie making will make an appearance too, with previous incarnations of Perry’s alter ego ‘Claire’ making her screen debut. Collaged sketchbooks, prints and drawings from back in the day will provide insight into Perry’s creative processes and tapestries from his most ambitious work to date, ‘The Vanity of Small Differences,’ will tell the tale of England’s class-ridden society through Perry’s eyes.

ABOVE: Detail of 'The Walthamstow Tapestry', 2009, which examines our relationship with consumerism in the 21st century

Finally, to mark Perry's arrival at Turner Contemporary, a limited edition silk scarf, plate and mug depicting shattered portions of previous artworks are available. So if you want to channel your inner ‘Claire’ then head over to Margate before they’re gone…

'Grayson Perry – Provincial Punk', 23 May to 13 September 2015. Free admission