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Grayson Perry

General Information
Born: March 24, 1960 (age 55), Chelmsford
Spouse: Philippa Perry (m. 1992)
Children: Florence Perry
Education: Braintree College, King Edward VI Grammar School, Chelmsford,
University of Portsmouth
Parents: Jean Dines, Tom Perry
Perrys urns are rendered with an incomprehensible master-craft: their
surfaces richly textured from designs marked into the clay, followed by
intricately complicated glazing and photo-transfer techniques. Perry
makes ceramic pots, hand-stitched quilts, and outrageous dress
designs, creating a cosmopolitan folk-art. (The Saatchi Gallery. 2016)
Were only here once and I want to get as much out of it possible. And as an
artist, my job is to be as much "me" as possible. (The Saatchi Gallery. 2016)
His form and content is always incongruous: classic Greecian-like urns bearing
friezes of car-wrecks, cell-phones, supermodels, as well as more dark and literary
scenes often incorporating auto-biographical references. (The Saatchi Gallery.
2016)
Perry reveals One of the reasons I dress up as a woman is my low selfesteem, to go with the image of women being seen as second classIt is like
pottery: thats seen as a second-class thing too. (The Saatchi Gallery. 2016)
People say, why do you need to put sex, violence or politics or some kind of
social commentary into my work? Without it, it would be pottery. I think that
crude melding of those two parts is what makes my work. (The Saatchi Gallery.
2016)
Winner of the 2003 Turner Prize, British artist Grayson Perry creates
seductively beautiful pots that convey challenging themes; at the heart
of his practice is a passionate desire to comment on deep flaws within
society. Perry uses pots as narrative and figurative media, a round,
curved surface for a bizarre or bitter story. (The Saatchi Gallery. 2016)
Grayson Perry often uses found images to create a mood or a tension. (The
Saatchi Gallery. 2016)
The pots are covered in a kind of psychic collage replete with stark,
expressionistic drawings, hand written text, stencilled lettering and
photographs. (The Saatchi Gallery. 2016)
Grayson Perry uses pots as narrative and figurative media, a round, curved
surface for a bizarre or bitter story. (The Saatchi Gallery. 2016)
"I'm not an innovator, ceramic-wise. I use very traditional forms, techniques
and it's merely the carrier of the message. That's how I want to keep it. But I'm

always aware that it's a pot. It's not like I take it for granted. I'm always aware
that I'm working on a vase and what that means" (The Saatchi Gallery.
2016)

The artist's childhood has been a major influence on his work. In an attempt to
escape his difficult family situation, he would often retreat to his father's shed
where he would engage in a fantasy world with his teddy bear, Alan
Measles, whom he has described as: "surrogate father, rebel leader,
fighter, pilot and undefeated racing driver." Alan is a frequent feature in
much of Perry's work. (Vogue. 2016)
It was in his teenage years when Perry realised that he was a transvestite (a
person, typically a man, who derives pleasure from dressing in clothes
appropriate to the opposite sex). Now, when he dresses in women's clothes,
he refers to himself as Claire. Speaking about this part of his life, he
explained to the Radio Times: "I do it because I want to do it. I don't have an
agenda with itI like dressing up. I am a tranny." (Vogue. 2016)
He has commented on fashion as a way of expressing sexuality and
gender in the social world: "I like to show people how manly I am. I am a man
in a dress, and in a way it almost emphasises my masculinity." (Vogue. 2016)
With regards to his fashion sense, Perry spoke to Vogue stating: "Of course I
worry about being fashionablealthough I don't think about fashion so much, or
trends, but I do like to wear a nice frock." (Vogue. 2016)

Pottery
His vessels are made by coiling, a traditional method. Most have a complex
surface employing many techniques, including "glazing, incision, embossing, and
the use of photographic transfers", which requires several firings
Grayson Perry works is inspired by Greek pottery
Coiled pots are constructed by gradually stacking and joining coils of
clay one on top of the other. The coils can be left visible or can be smoothed
away depending on your desired aesthetic end result. It is important that the
coils join well during construction to avoid cracking or separation during the
drying and firing process. (Lakeside Pottery. 2016)
To avoid cracking or coil separation, the clay is required to be soft and using the
proper process to connect the coils together. You can use your thumb or index
finger to smooth the coil into the lower level coil or use a wooden or silicon rib
tool while the clay is still soft. If you want the coils to show on both, the inside
and outside of the pot, slip and scoring is required but with no guarantee of
surviving the drying and firing process without coil separation. (Lakeside Pottery.
2016)
Ceramic glaze is a watertight layer or coating of a vitreous substance which has
been fused to a ceramic body through firing. Glaze can serve to color,
decorate or waterproof an item.

Incision is a type of pottery decoration in which the soft surface of the clay is cut
with a sharp instrument. The term also refers to decoration scratched
into the surface of other artefacts and structural features. Incised
decoration has narrow lines; excised has wide lines.
Embossing refers to the creation of an impression of some kind of design,
decoration, lettering or pattern on another surface like paper, cloth, metal
and even leather, to make a relief. In regular printing or an engraving, plates are
pressed against the surface to leave an imprint. In embossing however, the
pressing raises the surfaces adding a new dimension to the object.
Process: The first thing a potter needs is clay. When clay is first dug out of the
ground it is full of rocks and shells and other useless items that need to be
removed. To do this the potter mixes the clay with water and lets all the
impurities sink to the bottom. This is called levigation or elutriation. This process
can be done many times. The more times this is done, the smoother clay
becomes.
The clay is then kneaded by the potter and placed on a wheel. Once the clay is
on the wheel the potter can shape it into any shape. The pots were usually made
in sections such as the body and feet and spout. Even the body, if it were larger
than 20 centimeters, might be made in separate sections and glued together
later with a thin watery clay called slip.
After the pot is made then the potter paints it with a very pure black slip made
from a specially prepared clay using brushes made from a single hair.
Previously it was believed that Greek pottery, unlike today's pottery, was only
fired once, but that firing had three stages. New studies instead provide material
evidence that the pottery was made with two or more separate firings [19] in
which the pottery is subjected to multiple firing stages. The most commonly
described sequence of firing stages is one in which the pottery is stacked inside
the kiln the potter heats the kiln up to around 800 C with all the vents on the
sides open to let air in. This turns the pottery and the paint red all over. Once the
kiln reaches 800 C the vents are closed and the temperature is raised to 950 C
and then allowed to drop back to 900 C. This turns the pottery and the paint all
black. The potter then starts the third and final phase by opening the vents and
allowing the kiln to cool all the way down. This last phase leaves the slip black
but turns the pottery back to red. This happens because when the clay is given
air it turns red, but when the black slip is heated to 950 C it no longer allows air
in. So the slipped area stays black while the bare areas stay red. While the
description of a single firing with three stages may seem economical and
efficient, it is equally possible that each of these stages was confined to separate
firings.
How Perry creates his pots: http://www.bbc.co.uk/education/clips/zkv76sg
Equipment needed:
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.

Pottery Clay
Pottery Wheel
Kiln
Table/booths to store work
Carving knives

6. Brushes
Other equipment for other work:
1. Sewing machine
2. Dressmaking equipment

Bibliography
Lakeside Pottery. 2016. How to Make a Coil Pot? Step by step coil pot
construction lesson. [ONLINE] Available at:
http://www.lakesidepottery.com/Pages/Pottery-tips/Making-a-clay-coiled-potLakeside-Pottery-Tutorial.htm. [Accessed 06 March 2016].
The Saatchi Gallery. 2016. Grayson Perry - Artist's Profile - The Saatchi Gallery.
[online] Available at: http://www.saatchigallery.com/artists/grayson_perry.htm.
[Accessed 05 March 2016].
Vogue. 2016. Grayson Perry biography, quotes & facts. [online] Available
at: http://www.vogue.co.uk/spy/biographies/grayson-perry-biography. [Accessed
06 March 2016].