Grayson Perry: The Tomb of The Unknown Craftsman

We visited this exhibition at the British Museum, curated by Grayson Perry who had explored themes by grouping examples of his work with items from the BM’s permanent collection. I had heard and seen so much about the exhibition beforehand that I felt quite familiar with it, but despite this I was struck by how different his curating style was compared to past exhibitions. In places it was difficult to tell which pieces were new, and themes such as sexuality and gender were expressed far earlier in the collection than you would think.

I used the visit to practice some sketching, and found it quite an odd experience. It is difficult not to feel conspicuous and in the way, and sketching stood up was more of a challenge than I had thought. I was drawn to a piece made in 2009 for the Tate Modern gift shop as it illustrated some of the points on our reverence for original art pieces made in John Bergers “Ways of Seeing” that I had been reading on the train. It was an amulet/personal shrine encasing a fragment of original pottery by Grayson. He juxtaposed this piece with an ancient Tibetan personal shrine. The similarities in the pieces were striking, but Grayson had apparently never seen the piece before making his version. Phillipa Perry talks more about this in the BM’s blog.

Throughout the exhibition, I found the use of text within the pots and textiles interesting and was taken by how much can be conveyed in careful selection of key words. The use of colour in a large scale tapestry “Map of Truth and Beliefs” was striking as were the varying perspectives used within the piece. The composition was based on the Buddhist Wheel of Life, centred by a colour wheel.

During the visit to the rest of the museum, I spent some time collecting sketches and photos of patterns on a Greek pot and various Egyptian mummy casings.


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