City Lit Blog

Grayson Perry Exhibition Review – The Most Popular Art Exhibition Ever!

Story added 11th Aug 2017

Grayson Perry - photo credit Tony Kyriacou - REX - Shutterstock

Just over thirty years ago I was teaching ceramics classes at the Central London Institute – an adult education centre near Euston station, which closed in the late 1980s.

One of the students enrolled in my class was a man called Grayson Perry. He had just left art school and had moved to London and wanted to learn to make ceramics!

Here we are over thirty years on and I am reviewing his latest one man show at the Serpentine Gallery in Hyde Park.

I went to see the exhibition on what I thought would be a quiet Tuesday morning, but no – the exhibition was full of people and they seemed to be having a great time!

Unlike many art exhibitions there was laughter, chatter, people really talking about the work and enjoying the humour in the work.

The work in the show is a mixture of ceramics, sculptures, wood block prints, sketchbooks and tapestries – with a bicycle and motorbike in the show as well.

The work touches on many themes – such as male sexuality, politics, gender issues , marriage, childhood – and the work can be both humorous and full of pathos at the same time.

The tapestries and ceramic works are really beautiful to look at but also carry a political message about our divided society.

As Waldemar Januszczak says in his review of the exhibition in the Sunday Times on the 11th of June – “This finally is what Grayson Perry is best at – nimble social observation laced with sardonic knowingness. He’s a sarky collector of telling details who uses humour as his primary weapon. The DNA of quintessentially British cheekiness can be traced back to Hogarth. Like Hogarth, Perry uses humour as both a weapon and a delivery system connecting him to the bigger audience he seeks to address “.

Many things have changed for Grayson in the last 30 odd years since I taught him, but the seeds of his work were there right from the beginning, and the personal truth of the work still remains – it’s an excellent show – go and see it!

Review by Kate Wickham, Head of the Ceramics Diploma course at City Lit.

Grayson Perry: The Most Popular Art Exhibition Ever! runs at the Serpentine Gallery until 10 September 2017.

Ceramics courses

Kate will be teaching on the Ceramics Diploma course at City Lit starting September 2017

Browse all ceramics courses and pottery courses at City Lit

City Lit Fellows

Grayson Perry is an honorary Fellow of City Lit. Find out more about City Lit fellows.