A Tapestry for Our Time

The story behind Grayson Perry's 'Walthamstow Tapestry', 2009

This long, traditionally woven tapestry is reminiscent of the world-renowned, seventy-meter-long Bayeux Tapestry (c. 1070), depicting the heroic events of the Battle of Hastings in 1066.

WALTHAMSTOW TAPESTRY, 2009 by Grayson Perry 140 x 700 cm, woven wool, acrylic, cotton, trevira cs and polyester (collection: Bonnefantenmuseum, Maastricht)

In the Walthamstow Tapestry Perry explores a very different subject: the emotional role and meaning of brand names in our lives, and by extension our quasi-religious relationship with consumerism.

Detail of WALTHAMSTOW TAPESTRY, 2009, Grayson Perry

The tapestry depicts a human life, punctuated with an endless series of commercial brands that the individual encounters along the way. Stripped of their logos and thus their identity, the brand names walk alongside the subjects of the portraits: ordinary people going about their daily business, caring for their children, walking the dog, skateboarding and – of course – shopping.

Detail of WALTHAMSTOW TAPESTRY, 2009, Grayson Perry

Every one of Grayson Perry’s vases or tapestries is a marvel of craftsmanship and devotion. But this also produces a dissonance between these contemporary scenes and his otherwise traditional works. With image and text, Perry tells stories of social injustice, hypocrisy and his alter ego, Claire.

Use the zoom viewer here to explore the tapestry in detail.

Credits: All media
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