In 2015 the British Council celebrated the seventy-fifth anniversary of its work in Turkey. Two major exhibitions of works by Turner Prize winning artist Grayson Perry were the centrepiece of this year’s programme of artistic and cultural exchange between the UK and Turkey.
Cer Modern, Ankara
Vanity of Small Differences – 11 September – 8 November 2015
Pera Museum, Istanbul,
Small Differences - 13 May - 26 July 2015.
The exhibition at the Pera Museum was curated by Linsey Young from British Council Visual Arts and included works from across Perry’s practice, spanning ceramics, textiles and works on paper from the last decade, at the centre of which is The Vanity of Small Differences from the British Council Collection. The exhibition also assembled an additional number of works that focus on the artist’s mature practice. The earliest work was a ceramic pot from 2002, the period during which Perry was nominated for the Turner Prize; culminating in a self-portrait, A Map of Days, which was completed in 2014 for a major exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery in London.
The second exhibition that opened on 11 September at Cer Modern hosted the Vanity of Small Differences tapestry series from the British Council Collection.
Perry’s suite of six tapestries focused on the class system by telling the story of Tim Rakewell’s cradle-to-grave journey through modern British society, from humble birth to very public celebrity death. Each scene was based on real people, places and objects that Perry encountered on his travels through England in 2011. Alongside these, Perry took inspiration from art-historical imagery, often early Renaissance religious works located in public collections, but also, and most importantly, William Hogarth’s series of paintings A Rake’s Progress (1733), which tells the story of the rise and fall of a young man, Tom Rakewell, who loses his inherited fortune through a sequence of bad decisions.
This touring exhibition features not only the Channel 4 documentary In the Best Possible Taste (2012), which explored the making of the tapestries, but also Hogarth’s eight original etchings of A Rake’s Progress (1735).
Grayson Perry is one of the UK’s most celebrated contemporary artists and has had major solo exhibitions at major museums around the world. Primarily a ceramic artist, he also works in printmaking, drawing, embroidery and other textile work, which are often combined with his ceramic work. He also creates film and performance art pieces (often as his alter ego, Claire) and has written a graphic novel.
In June 2013 Perry was awarded a CBE in the Queen's Birthday Honours List.