Head of a Fallen Giant 2008 ©Grayson Perry
Grayson Perry has brought Provincial Punk, showing more than 50 works in this in-depth exploration of his practice, to Margate’s Turner Contemporary.
Perry is the perfect choice for Margate, a once-troubled seaside town which is now determinedly working its way back by becoming a energised hub of all things creative and fun. As someone who is an incisive commentator on contemporary mores, his uniquely subversive art combines autobiographical reference with a warm social commentary on delicate subjects such as class, taste, consumerism, war, and the eternal question of art versus craft. In all of those matters Perry fits in beautifully with the general artisan Margate ethos.
Good and Bad Taste 2007 ©Grayson Perry
Provincial Punk covers Perry from his very early days as a young artist forging his own language in the Thatcher-dominated 80s to his work today, and shows his determination to remain anti-elitist and stay true to the teasingly unfashionable spirit of creativity at the heart of his work.
As Grayson Perry puts it: “The idea of ‘Provincial Punk’ is an oxymoron but it encapsulates creatively some sort of spirit in my work that still goes on to this day. It is a very creative force, a willingness to turn things over, to not accept the fashion and to have a bit of fun. It is a kind of teasing rebellion; it is not a violent revolution.”
©Grayson Perry 2002
Don’t make the mistake of assuming Perry’s pots are just thrown together. A short film shows the detailed process of making a pot, from the very start to finish, and although it is titled a day in Perry’s life, it looks more like two – three months if the change in clothing from short sleeved tees to warmer studio wear is anything to go by.
Map of Nowhere 2008 ©Grayson Perry
Besides the pots – which are both beautiful and profound and require a fair amount of time to dwell on both the general naughtiness and social commentary – there’s also some stunning and very intricate etchings, reminiscent of medieval maps, besides his recent tapestries such as The Walthamstow Tapestry, Map of an Englishman and Print for a Politician, and great sketchbooks that give an insight into his inspiration. What I love most about Perry’s work is that it always ignites you and makes you want to make something yourself. The only pieces I didn’t get were the rarely shown (guess there’s a reason for that!) super-8 films, Bungalow Depression (created with Jennifer Binnie) and The Poor Girl. I felt they were very of their time, a sunbleached UK from a long time ago where people filled their homes with chintz and wall-to-wall carpeting and nothing really happened, a country of dusty, interminable Sunday afternoons. They were literally impossible to watch without incurring a major case of the fidgets. The ‘nothing happens’ also make them seem the antithesis to Grayson Perry himself as his output is formidable – the pots, the motorbike, the adventures of Alan Measles, the cycling, the Reith lectures, A House For Essex, not to mention Claire, that determined frump/extremely unexpected fashion icon who alone must be a nigh fulltime occupation. How does he do it all?
What is clear is that this rude, funny and caring artist is deeply loved by a very varied group of people. On all three occasions that I visited, the gallery was heaving with people eager to see the works and it was brilliant to see the mix of all ages and locals as well as DFLs (Down From London).
Turner Contemporary, now in its fourth year, has played a huge part in Margate’s rebirth and there’s no doubt that the Provincial Punk showstopper combined with Dreamland reopening on the 19th June along with some very cool shops and restaurants making their debut over the summer will introduce even more people to this pearl of a town.
Photograph ©Stephen White
Feel like getting your Grayson Perry on? In celebration of Perry’s love of craft, Turner Contemporary will be hosting two ‘Crafterdays’ on Saturday 8 and Saturday 29 August 2015. Visitors can take part in workshops led by the Kent Potters Association, artist and fashion designer Bobi Sanders, Margate’s Women’s Institute and Turner Contemporary’s Craft Club and Studio Group. As part of the first ‘Crafterday’ on the 8 August, the Student Makers’, a vibrant mini-market for young creatives, will take place at the gallery.
Grayson Perry | Provincial Punk
Till 13 Sep 2015
Words by Anna Bang
Tagsanna bang, Bobi Sanders, Grayson Perry, Provincial Punk, Turner Contemporary,