Friday, 28 May 2021

Grayson Perry, The Pre-Therapy Years

A post I failed to publish from our trip to Bath 18 months ago. Apologies for the poor quality of the photographs, but most of the exhibits were in glass cabinets.

Grayson Perry, The Pre-Therapy Years at the Holburn Museum, Bath.

This exhibition focused on Perry's early work, from 1981 to 1994, when he employed various media and made his first works in clay.

Grayson Perry grew up in suburban Essex and sought refuge from a troubled childhood with the help of  his teddy bear, Alan Measles. At Portsmouth Polytechnic and later, living in a London squat, he was part of a post-Punk group of artists, musicians and film-makers, particularly the Neo Naturists, a performance art collective connected to the New Romantic club scene.

Perry has described this early period as the 'pre-therapy years', a time when he explored his complex identity through his art, expressing an anger which would later be resolved through psychotherapy. His imagery could be deliberately shocking, sometimes combining Nazi symbols (a trait of British punk), religious iconography and graphic sexual scenes. At the same time, his work satirised such social themes as class and gender, and, especially, the conventions of the art world of which he was increasingly a part.

Spirit Jar, 1994

Artefact for People Who Have No Identity, 1994

Fashion Accessory, 1994

Portrait of Matthew Bardsley, 1993

Phallic Woman, 1993

My Gods, 1994

Childhood Trauma Manifesting Itself in Later Life, 1992

Meaningless Symbols, 1993

Design Based on Sketches by a Murderer, 1990

Western Art in the Form of a Saki Bottle, 1992

Untitled, 1990

Newsreader, 1990

Cocktail Party, 1989

Patterns of Violent Behaviour, 1989

Biker Pot, 1992

Four Seasons, 1988

Small Investment in British Perversion, 1988

Essex Plate, 1988

Map of Essex, 1990

Untitled, 1985, (wood)

As well as pots, Perry created several shed-like sculptures, one called Baba Yaga's Hut, a reference to a witch-like figure In Russian folklore. This shed of found wood and rusted metal became a shrine for two vases and a bible.

Skull, 1989

Grotesque Devil Head, 1988

No God Shall Tame Me, I Am War, 1985

Return Me to Essex from Where I Come, 1987

Whore of Essex, I Love Thee, 1986

The Flying Nailfile, 1984

Spirit Jar, 1994

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