Vanity of Small Differences from Grayson Perry's Channel 4 series to begin tour in Sunderland

By Culture24 Reporter | 30 November 2012
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A photo of a male artist in a flowery shirt standing in front of a colourful tapestry
Grayson Perry, The Upper Class at Bay (2012). Wool, cotton, acrylic, polyester and silk tapestry© Photo: Rii Schroer

The Vanity of Small Differences, the series of tapestries created by Grayson Perry in an incisive commentary on British society during an acclaimed Channel 4 series this summer, will be gifted to The Arts Council Collection and the British Council, who will send the works on a national tour.

The master potter and London’s Victoria Miro Gallery have sanctioned the deal in a bid to maximise public opportunities to see the tableaux, made in response to his experiences among communities nationwide as part of the primetime show, All in the Best Possible Taste with Grayson Perry.

Fittingly, the tour will begin next June at the Museum and Winter Garden in Sunderland, where Perry met many of the charismatic residents featured in the resulting artworks.

“The tapestries now have a chance to reach a very wide and varied audience,” announced the artist, who said he was “hugely pleased and proud” at his creation touring “all around the country and the world.”

“Of all the pieces I have made this was the one I conceived from the outset as a public artwork. I hope that wherever it goes it not only delights the eye but also sparks debate about class, taste and British society.”

Two of the scenes, The Adoration of the Cage Fighters and The Agony in the Car Park, are set in Sunderland, but they have only been seen in London to date.

The tour will continue to Manchester Art Gallery in late 2013, with exhibitions at Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, the Walker Art Gallery in Liverpool and Temple Newsam House in Leeds confirmed for 2014.

“We are very excited by this hugely generous gift from Grayson Perry and Victoria Miro,” said Caroline Douglas, the Head of the Arts Council Collection.

“Grayson curated a show for the Arts Council Collection in 2008, so he has first-hand experience of how we work.

“He understands that works in the Arts Council Collection are seen and enjoyed by the widest possible public across the UK.

“After the initial UK tour, the tapestries will be available as a loan to museums and galleries in the UK and abroad.”

Andrea Rose, of the British Council, called the works “caustic, funny and affectionate”, and Tabitha Jackson, of Channel 4, said the broadcaster was “thrilled” to co-organise the tour of the “beautiful and intricate” tapestries.

In Sunderland, city councillor John Kelly described the prospect of the display as “really very special.”
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