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Who is Grayson Perry?

— October 2014

Associated media

Grayson Perry Photo: Penguin Books  Copyright: Jochen Braun

Politician Chris Huhne, a young female-to-male transsexual, Northern Ireland Loyalist marchers, and X-Factor and Celebrity Big Brother contestant Rylan Clark are among the subjects of a new display by Grayson Perry, to open at the National Portrait Gallery this autumn, and featured on his new Channel 4 series.  

In 'Who Are You?' (25 October 2014–15 March 2015, generously supported by Coutts Bank) 14 portraits of individuals, families and groups will be placed within the Gallery’s 19th- and 20th-century Collection displays, including a self-portrait and a major new tapestry.

The portrait of Huhne, whom Perry visited on the day of his release from prison, will be seen alongside those of deaf parents, a Muslim convert and a couple living with Alzheimers in the display in a variety of media by the Turner Prize-winning artist and BAFTA Award-winning broadcaster.  

The new portraits have resulted from the artist’s new Channel 4 series, Who Are You?, three 60-minute films, the first of which was broadcast yesterday (but what is catch-up TV for?) , in which Grayson Perry turns his attention to portraiture and British identity. 

In each film Grayson spends time with Britons facing a moment in their lives in which they need to define who they are, and then distils his impressions of this into a portrait. Some of the sitters have become miniatures, some large tapestries, others statues and pots.

Viewers will be able to follow the developing relationship between artist and subjects during the sittings and in the climactic scene of each film they will see the reaction of the sitters as they catch their first glimpse of themselves through Grayson's eyes.

The films and display coincide with the publication of Grayson Perry’s new book Playing to the Gallery: Helping Contemporary Art in its Struggle to be Understood published in the autumn by Penguin.

Grayson Perry says:

I have always been interested in the things we tend not to think about or take for granted, like our sense of aesthetic taste. In this show I investigate our slippery sense of who we feel we are. Identity seems to be something that is only an issue when it is threatened or problematic in some way. I have chosen as my subjects individuals, families or groups who are in situations that highlight certain aspects of being human. I am hoping that they will throw some light on experiences that we all share. With the artworks I have made I have attempted to portray the identity narrative of the subjects, the process of ‘being ourselves’.

National Portrait Gallery
St Martin’s Place
London WC2H 0HE

A review of this display will appear in Cassone shortly.

For a free, no-strings trial week’s access to the whole of Cassone, see details here 


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