The early years of a National Treasure

BATH’s Holburne Museum, now open for visits after the lockdown, has a major exhibition of work by one of the country’s best-loved artists. Grayson Perry: The Pre-Therapy Years runs to 3rd January 2021.

This is the first exhibition to survey Perry’s earliest forays into the art world, featuring the exciting, radical works he made between 1982 and 1994. These ground-breaking ‘lost’ pots are reunited for the first time to focus on the formative years of one of Britain’s most recognisable artists.

Today, Perry – and his instantly-recognisable alter-ego, Claire – enjoys a reputation bordering on National Treasure status by virtue of his distinctive tapestries, collages and ceramics. While his artwork often explores themes of gender, identity and social class, he has a parallel role as an incisive and witty social commentator on television and in print.

The exhibition displays some of the pots, plates and sculptures that first made Perry’s name, illustrating his experimentation and exploration of the potential of pottery to address radical issues and human stories. It is a chance to enjoy the artist’s clever, playful and politically-engaged perspective on the world through a number of pieces, many of which have not been seen in public since they were first exhibited. 

Grayson Perry notes “This show has been such a joy to put together, I am really looking forward to seeing these early works again many of which I have not seen since the eighties. It is as near as I will ever get to meeting myself as a young man, an angrier, priapic me with huge energy but a much smaller wardrobe.”

Pictured: Grayson Perry, Cocktail Party, 1989, courtesy of the artist and Victoria Miro, London/Venice.