Yesterday I was back in Manchester to visit the Art Gallery and the Tapas Bar again. This time the weather was freezing cold but fortunately stayed dry. I’d hoped to get back to visit the Grayson Perry exhibition centred around the gallery’s recent purchases of two of GP’s art works. This exhibition is only on until 12 February so I was very pleased to catch it. In addition it was also a great pleasure to meet up with a friend who moved over to the Wirral nearly 20 years ago. Manchester makes a good midway place to meet especially in winter when we can travel there easily by train.
Before we entered the GP room we were intrigued to see an installation entitled “Where shall we go today?” It consisted of old suitcases and pieces of luggage piled up against the wall and covered with tie-on luggage labels. Some artists had been invited to answer the question and their tags are covered in plastic but then the public and mainly (it seemed to me) school children were let loose with their dreams and ideas and the result is pictured below :
Visual Dialogues was like a mini ‘Tomb of the Unknown Craftsman‘ but with a difference. The Manchester Art Gallery has bought the vase ‘Jane Austen in E17’ and print ‘Print for a Politician’ with financial help from The Goldstone and Livingstone Family Trusts, in memory of their parents’ friendship, together with funding from the Art Fund and support from the MLA/V&A Purchase Grant Fund. A group of young people aged 15-18 who call themselves The Creative Consultants have done what Perry did at the British Museum and gone into the archives of MGA and chosen artefacts to display alongside the vase and the print.
“Jane Austen in E17 (2009) is a beautifully executed large ceramic vase inspired in shape by Chinese porcelain, decorated with detailed drawings of elaborately dressed Georgian ladies taking tea and conversing. The genteel figures reflect Perry’s interest in the feminine and his knowledge of historic dress. They refer to the ideal view of British culture portrayed in popular costume dramas of Jane Austen’s novels.
In contrast to these idealised figures, the vase also features layered photographic transfers of contemporary life, including cuttings from celebrity magazines and more sinister references to crime and surveillance, taken from the streets around Perry’s studio in London’s E17.” (Manchester Art Gallery)
Here are some examples of what the young people chose :
“Print for a Politician (2005) is only the second print that Perry treated as a major work; it took over a month to draw. The etching shows groups of people including academics, fundamentalists, northerners, parents and transvestites in a landscape setting, each group given a name, like a place name on an old map. All the groups are armed for battle, with weapons of war from different periods and cultures. Perry’s intention for this work is to show the complexity of human society. He hopes audiences will identify with one or more of the groups and realise it is possible to live together peacefully despite our differences.” (Manchester Art Gallery)
In addition we saw three other Grayson Perry vases on loan from other galleries.
All in all the exhibition was “small but perfectly formed”.