Sir Grayson Perry knighted for services to the arts

Grayson Perry has been knighted as part of the New Year Honors list.

The 62-year-old artist, writer and broadcaster, who is known for his tapestries, ceramic works and cross-dressing, has been made a Knight Bachelor for services to the arts.

Essex-born Sir Grayson, who calls himself a “tranny potter”, often explores fashion, conformity and prejudice in his work and appears in public as his female alter-ego, Claire.

Sir Grayson Perry, right, and his wife Philippa (PA)

He spends hours meticulously making vases, which at a distance look like ornaments, and are covered in words and sometimes graphic images depicting his own past or railing against society.

Born in 1960 in Chelmsford, Sir Grayson began his career at Braintree College of Further Education and then at Portsmouth Polytechnic, where he studied fine art.

Later when he moved to London in the early 1980s he began attending evening pottery classes and developed a strong connection with the medium.

He has said previously that he loves using clay because “it is held in such low esteem in the art world”.

Investitures at Buckingham Palace
Sir Grayson wore his ‘Italian mother of the bride outfit’ when he became a CBE in 2014 (Jonathan Brady/PA)

Sir Grayson won the Turner Prize in 2003 after being nominated for the piece Claire’s Coming Out Dress and a collection of vases depicting the dark recesses of life.

The pots are covered with subject matter such as child abuse, autobiographical images of himself, Claire and his family, as well as examinations of cultural stereotypes.

In 2012, Sir Grayson produced a set of six huge tapestries to accompany a Bafta-winning Channel 4 series called All In The Best Possible Taste With Grayson Perry, about British taste.

Perry toured the country for the program and the first place he visited was Sunderland, producing two textile pieces based on places and characters he found in the city – The Adoration Of The Cage Fighters and The Agony In The Car Park.

In 2014, he became a CBE after an investiture by the then Prince of Wales, now King, and wore what he called his “Italian mother of the bride” outfit for the occasion where he was recognized for services to contemporary art.

Grayson Perry Wins Turner Prize
Sir Grayson during the Turner Prize ceremony at Tate Britain in London in 2003 (Lindsey Parnaby/PA)

The midnight blue dress had a matching fitted jacket with a wide brimmed black-hat decorated with what looked like ostrich feathers.

He said at the time, the recognition was for “30 years of hard graft”.

In his 2016 Channel 4 program Grayson Perry: All Man, the dress-wearing artist put himself in three ultra-male worlds to see what their masculinity explained about the changing lives and expectations of men in modern Britain.

Other Channel 4 programs include Why Men Wear Frocks, Grayson Perry’s Big American Road Trip, Rites of Passage, Divided Britain, and Who Are You?

His recent hit TV series Grayson’s Art Club was launched with his wife Philippa Perry, a trained artist but best known as a psychotherapist, columnist and author, in April 2020 during the pandemic.

The couple have made two series, which encouraged people to make and send in artwork and it soon had more than a million viewers each week.

They exhibited season one’s creations in Manchester Art Gallery and season two’s works in Bristol Museum and Art Gallery.

In 2020, Perry won the prestigious Netherlands-based Erasmus Prize, awarded each year to an individual or institution who has made a major contribution to the arts, humanities or sciences, in Europe and beyond.

The artist was praised by judges for “demonstrating that art belongs to everybody and should not be an elitist affair” and was given what was then worth 150,000 Euros (£127,000).

He also had exhibitions at Bonnefantenmuseum in the Netherlands, La Monnaie de Paris in France, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Australia, the 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art in Japan, the Andy Warhol Museum in the US and the Barbican Art Gallery in London.

The largest ever retrospective of Sir Grayson’s work will take place at the Royal Scottish Academy in Edinburgh from July 22 to November 12 2023.

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