Exhibition Review: Grayson Perry: The Vanity of Small Differences

Jodie and Maxima, students from Durham Sixth Form Centre, have been spending 4 days of their Easter break on a work experience placement with Sunderland Culture. As part of their week, they spent some time in the Grayson Perry: The Vanity of Small Differences with Volunteer Tour Guide Alison and Posy from the Learning Team and this is their review of the exhibition.

Are you familiar with Grayson Perry and his work?

Jodie: I am not familiar with Grayson Perry’s work.

Maxima: No, I am not familiar with his work either.

What did you like/dislike about the exhibition?

Maxima: I liked the messages, metaphors, details and consistency of themes and features. As well as the political and social relevance to today, despite time having passed since the pieces were made.

Jodie: The style of the figures is not to my taste, but I thought this added to the message of different classes and what is considered tasteful and acceptable.

What surprised you?

Maxima: The scale and detail of the pieces surprised me, there were no blank spaces or meaningless features.

Jodie: I was surprised by the relevance of many of the themes and stereotypes presented, and how little society overall seems to have meaningfully changed from when the tapestries were created to today.

Jodie: I was also surprised that the pieces were inspired by various historical works of art, yet they still manage to appear modern and relevant.

Why should other young people visit?

Maxima: There are lots of relatable references to British Culture and humour that are widely understood by the British population, especially in Comfort Blanket.

Jodie: I like the tongue-in-cheek, dark humour and satire of socioeconomic classes, groups, tastes and stereotypes.

What would potential visitors need to know?

Maxima: I don’t think you need to know much about the artist to appreciate the work.

Jodie: I think some context of overall British culture, especially in the North East, would be useful to understanding the details of the tapestries.

Would you visit another exhibition by Grayson Perry?

Maxima: Yes, I would definitely!

Jodie: I absolutely would!

Book your free tickets to Grayson Perry: The Vanity of Small Differences at sunderlandmuseum.org.uk. Booking is essential and the exhibition is open until Sunday 5 June 2022.

Grayson Perry: The Vanity of Small Differences is the sixth in Sunderland Culture’s series of Arts Council Collection National Partners Programme exhibitions and is supported using public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England.

Grayson Perry, The Agony in the Car Park, 2012, Wool, cotton, acrylic, polyester and silk tapestry, Edition of 6 + 2 AP, 200 x 400cm. © the artist. Gift of the artist and Victoria Miro Gallery with the support of Channel 4 Television, the Art Fund and Sfumato Foundation with additional support from AlixPartners.

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