Grayson Perry's Unpopular Culture At The De La Warr Pavilion

By 24 Hour Museum Staff | 13 May 2008
Black and white photo of the artist in a skirt and head scarf standing next to a crumbling wall

Grayson Perry. Photo: Eric Great-Rex, © the artist, 2008. Courtesy the artist and Victoria Miro Gallery, London

Exhibition preview: Unpopular Culture - Grayson Perry selects from the Arts Council Collection at De La Warr Pavilion, Bexhill, until July 6 2008.

Ceramic artist Grayson Perry, best known for appearing to collect his Turner Prize in 2003 dressed as his transvestite alter ego, is also a curator.

It's this side of his work that takes the limelight in a new touring exhibition from the Hayward Gallery, in which Perry has been given free rein to take his pick from the Arts Council Collection of 7,500 post-war works of art.

Bronze sculpture with three legs

Lynn Chadwick, Rad Lad (1961). Arts Council Collection, Southbank Centre.© the estate of the artist, 2008

From this highly respected collection, Perry says he has gone for works that come from a period in history 'before British Art became fashionable' – hence the exhibition title. On show are more than 70 works by 50 artists, covering figurative painting, bronze sculpture and documentary photography dating from the 1940s to the Thatcherite 1980s.

Represented in the display are Kenneth Armitage, Frank Auerbach, Ian Berry, Anthony Caro, Lynn Chadwick, Barbara Hepworth, LS Lowry, Henry Moore, Paul Nash, Eduardo Paolozzi, Martin Parr, Tony Ray-Jones and Homer Sykes, and two works by Perry.

His choices reflect a different era in Britain, when our identity was less defined by such things as television, mass media and digital communications.

Painting of a large block of flats circa 1960s

David Hepher, Arrangement in Turquoise and Cream (1979-81). Arts Council Collection, Southbank Centre. © the artist, 2008

"The first time I trawled through the catalogues of the Collection I was drawn to these three distinct categories of art," says Perry, "which are bound together both by the period of their inception and their ineffable sense of mood; subtle, sensitive, lyrical and quiet in contrast to today when much art can seem like shouty advertisements for concepts or personalities."

"I also felt a need to confront the hackneyed version of the recent past that is the default mode of the nostalgia industry," he continues. "Take the 'Swinging Sixties' – this psychedelic, mini-driving, mini-skirt wearing, Beatles-loving supposed glory age which I suspect was really only enjoyed by a minority. This exhibition shows another side."

Unpopular Culture will go on to the Harris Museum in Preston (July 19 to September 14 2008) and then to galleries in Durham, Southampton, Aberystwyth, Scarborough, Wakefield and Bath from 2009 to 2010.

This is an exhibition preview. If you've been to see the show, why not let us know what you think?

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