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

Tuesday 25 May 2021

The Slaughters

Continuing with our exploration of the Cotswolds, we decided to visit Lower and Upper Slaughter, two of the prettiest villages I have ever come across. The name comes from the old English 'slohtre' , which has nothing to do with killing things and means 'muddy place'. The link is the tiny river Eyre, tributary to the nearby river Windrush. Both villages have remained utterly unchanged for more than a century with no building work taking place at all since 1906.

We started with Lower Slaughter, the prettiest of the two, due to the river that runs through the middle of it. The river is very shallow, just like in Bourton-on-the-Water

We parked by the rive near this hotel

and then proceeded to have a look at St Mary's church.


Then it was time to explore the rest of the village

The river Eye flows between neatly-mown grassy banks and is crossed several times by quaint old bridges.

It's a very small village, very picturesque

the houses built with the local Cotswold stone.

The village green

Very quiet too - we only saw one local resident, but a few visitors like ourselves: one of the houses had a sign saying 'no photographs, please', which I think, says it all

We turned right here

because we wanted to have a look at the mill, the only attraction in the village.

The restored 19th century flour mill was last used commercially in 1958. Its imposing chimney is made of red brick, in sharp contrast to the other buildings in the village.

I loved the giant working waterwheel.

Today, the Mill is a museum, shop and ice-cream parlour

Lots of goodies for the garden being sold in the yard, but unfortunately, it was closed so we could not go in and have a look

We left the mill behind us and continued exploring

this must be the smallest window in the village.

We managed to find a path that leads to the countryside and we took it

part of it is a river walk

an island

and another one

a kissing gate led to a field

we came across quite a few walkers, so it's a popular walk. We assumed that this walk leads to Upper Slaughter.

Another kissing gate, and then, another field full of sheep and their little ones, all fresh from the market

lots of sheep and lambs under this tree

Ah! they are so sweet

I can't resist - here's another one

But, the weather was changing, and the threat of another shower was imminent, so we retraced our steps. A different view of the Mill

past the Mill again,

and we made our way to the car, walking along the opposite side of the river

We managed to get to the car just as it started raining, so we drove to Upper Slaughter. Fortunately, by the time we got there, the rain had eased and the sun was shining again

Upper Slaughter is less visited, but still very pretty. The cottages around the square were reconstructed by the famour architect Edward Lutyens in 1906. 

One of the first things we came across was the Lords of the Manor hotel and restaurant - closed of course, because of lockdown, but we went in to have a look, mainly because 

we were drawn by the immaculate lawns in front of the building

We walked downhill and came to the river

so shallow

pretty cottages abound

This tiny Methodist chapel dating from 1865 is now used as a pottery - alas, closed

It's lovely to walk around here, and we did not see a single soul

the ford

and the river

The church of St Peter's, a historic Normal church, was our last stop.

It then started raining again, so we headed towards the car and home.