Without doubt Grayson Perry is one of the most original and recognisable artists working in Britain today and his use of different media transcends the traditional hierarchies of art and crafts. Working in print, drawing, photography, embroidery and sculpture, it was with ceramics that the artist made his mark on the London art scene in the 1980s and it is ceramics that continue to form the major part of his working output. The launch of Penguin’s Grayson Perry’s Sketchbooks this week showcases the broad themes that fascinate and inspire the artist, whilst giving a wonderful insight into the techniques of his production, from basic pencil sketches, through to collaged designs for some of his most recognisable works.
These beautiful reproductions (akin to the reproduced sketch books of Moore and Sutherland) provide a window into Perry’s artistic imagination and showcase the evolution of his creative ideas. Of these themes none is more dominant than that of clothes and fashion, and it is a hallmark by which we now judge the artist (also making him fairly easy to spot at openings!) As Perry states, “In the middle of the night I wake up, tossing and turning over what I’m going to wear the next day. It’s so exciting!”
GRAYSON PERRY, BUT WHAT AM I SUPPOSED TO WEAR TO THE SURFACE DECORATION BALL!, CIRCA 1988. ESTIMATE £20,000–30,000.
Nowhere is this obsession more noticeable than in his captivating work But What Am I Supposed To Wear To The Surface Decoration Ball!, which is one of the highlights of the Made In Britain sale. An important work from his early career it was shown in Perry’s second solo show at James Birch Fine Art, London, and details his exquisite techniques of layered coloured slips and glazes over a coiled body. Showcasing Perry’s sharp and engaging visual language, developed throughout the course of the 1990s and into the 2000s, But What Am I Supposed To Wear To The Surface Decoration Ball! embodies everything that we think of when we hear Perry’s name – it is engaging, outspoken and just a little bit rude.
ONE OF THE IMAGES FROM SKETCHBOOKS BY GRAYSON PERRY (PARTICULAR BOOKS, £40). ALL WORKS © GRAYSON PERRY.