8 Facts about Grayson Perry

Get to know the artist, from TV personality to Turner Prize winner

By Google Arts & Culture

Artist Grayson Perry by Daniel BoudSydney Opera House

Grayson Perry is an English contemporary artist, who started his career making punk-inspired ceramics and films, before moving to tapestries and textiles. His art often features his alter-ego Claire and teddy bear, Alan Measles.

Grayson Perry: It’s Never Too Late to Have a Happy Childhood, 2000 (2000) by Grayson PerryMudam Luxembourg – The Contemporary Art Museum of Luxembourg

He first exhibited while he was studying

Perry first exhibited his pottery at the New Contemporaries show at the Institute of Contemporary Arts in London in 1980, while he was studying fine art at Portsmouth College of Art and Design. Soon after, he joined the Neo Naturists, aiming to revive the "true sixties spirit".

The Upper Class at Bay (2012) by Grayson PerryArts Council Collection

He traces his art back to his childhood

According to accounts, Perry based his art on his childhood. His father left home after his mother had an affair, and his step-father was abusive. He says he began to create a fantasy world based around his teddy bear Alan Measles.

The Agony in the Car Park (2012) by Grayson PerryArts Council Collection

He has an alter-ego

From an early age, Perry enjoyed dressing in womens' clothes. He developed an alter-ego named Claire, who is often pictured in his artwork.

The Annunciation of the Virgin Deal (2012) by Grayson PerryArts Council Collection

He reclaims historically 'feminine' arts

Perry's media of choice – ceramics, textiles, and performance – have historically been regarded as 'feminine'. Through art, Perry rejects this stereotype by exaggerating these qualities into parody.

The Adoration of the Cage Fighters (2012) by Grayson PerryMonnaie de Paris

He's a Turner Prize winner

Perry was awarded the Turner Prize in 2003 for his ceramic vases – the first time the prize was awarded to a ceramicist. The judges admired his use of "the traditions of ceramics and drawing in his uncompromising engagement with personal and social concerns".

Expulsion from Number 8 Eden Close (2012) by Grayson PerryArts Council Collection

He's a keen biker

Perry has an obsession with motor bikes, which he traces back to his childhood. He owns a customised pink and blue Harley-Davidson Knucklehead which he calls 'The Popemobile''.

The Walthamstow Tapestry (2009) by Grayson PerryBonnefantenmuseum

He created the Walthamstow Tapestry

In 2009, Perry was inspired by the Bayeux Tapestry to create the Walthamstow Tapestry. The huge 15m x 3m tapestry depicts hundreds of brand names surrounding large figures in the stages of life from birth to death.

#Lamentation (2012) by Grayson PerryArts Council Collection

He's a popular TV personality

In 2005, Perry presented 'Why Men Wear Frocks', an award-winning documentary in which he examined masculinity at the start of the 21st century. Perry talked about his own life and the difficulties involved.

Grayson Perry's Summer ExhibitionRoyal Academy of Arts

Listen to Perry in his own words

Watch Perry take a tour of his show at the Royal Academy's 2018 Summer Exhibition – the 250th annual exhibition.

The Walthamstow Tapestry (2009) by Grayson PerryBonnefantenmuseum

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