16 Jun Grayson Perry at The Serpentine Gallery
Passing the joggers and rollerbladers in Hyde Park we arrived just as the doors were opening at the Serpentine Gallery, keen to see ‘The Most Popular Art Exhibition Ever!’ showcasing Grayson Perry’s latest work.
We saw him the day before, leaving Buckingham Palace in his pale blue dress and pink hat. Towering above the crowds he was easy to spot, even in the distance, it’s hard not to notice Grayson Perry. We’d enjoyed his thought provoking documentaries, the first entitled ‘All Man’ which explored masculinity and identity (below), and then his most recent programme about Brexit, his art a reflection of both sides of the argument.
Inside the gallery stark white walls and staff dressed in jet black are the backdrop to the exhibition. Perry’s spectacular vases are protected from the hands of the inquisitive by glass cases, the pottery glistening under the lights. The detail on each vase is mind-blowing, the indents of the knife in the pottery, the colour of the glaze, the expression on the characters faces, the language and positioning. I’d never make it as an art critic but perhaps that’s the point? This art is for everyone, no need for an art degree to figure it out, or to enjoy it. It’s current, and on a daily basis it becomes more and more real.
Perry’s inspiration for these pieces came from social media users, who sent him photos, to capture the mood and the faces of the Remainers and the Brexiteers. It’s inclusive of people from all walks of life. The fragile pottery representing their passion, their rage, their love for what they hold dear. The title ‘A Fine Pair 2017’ made me want to laugh. There’s nothing pretentious about Perry.
The large tapestries adorning the blank walls burst with vivid colours. ‘‘The Battle of Britain’ (above) depicting the reality of life from urban streets to refugee camps, provoking questions and telling stories. Is the rainbow a sign of hope? In a world where the 24 hour news pushes messages which separate, label and divide, it’s a breath of fresh air to step into a space where there’s calm. A spacious room to sit and contemplate in silence, or in hushed whispers, what’s right under our noses. And to watch the other visitors, in all their guises from an uber elegant elderly lady with a silver topped walking cane and bright red hair (which matched her flowing kaftan) to a teenage couple in London tourist t-shirts, free to view the art work and interpret it however they see fit.
The piggy bank (The Long Pig) on the way in and out of the exhibition offers visitors the opportunity to make a donation, a contribution towards the running of the gallery. The coin slots provide a chance to reflect on yourself as they are entitled Old, Young, Left, Right, Us, Them, Urban, Poor, Rich. Who are you?
It’s worth noting that inside the piggy bank there is only one compartment. Like it or not, we’re all in this together.
Grayson Perry ‘The Most Popular Art Exhibition Ever!’ isat The Serpentine Gallery until the 10th of September 2017 and is admission free.