Grayson Perry art Exhibition – Who are you?

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The London Portrait Gallery exhibited the works of Grayson Perry in the popular Exhibition: Who are you? Placed in ‘hidden’ areas of the gallery the exhibition takes form of a treasure hunt, which intelligently depicts the lives of ordinary Britons, to illustrate identity. I attempted to see beyond what was presented to me on the explanation placards and it was a surprisingly accessible exhibition.

British Connotations in ‘Comfort Blanket’

They were all fascinating pieces of work within their individual right but for me ‘The Ashford Hijab’ and ‘The Line of Departure’ (both featured) stood out the most. The Ashford Hijab for its striking beauty and The Line of Departure for its metaphorical portrayal.

The Ashford Hijab

A convert to Islam, the Ashford Hijab is a silk screenprint depicting Kayleigh’s freedom from Western consumerism and the ‘sexual scrutiny of women’. However, the art piece is also available as a print on a headscarf for a whopping £200 in the Portrait’s giftshop – a bit ironic considering the concept of the piece is meant to revert away from consumerism! I’m telling myself that Grayson had no control over the marketing strategy employed by The National Portrait Gallery.

The Huhne Vase

With that being said, the piece itself is beautiful in all its blood coral glory (a colour which reminds me of the seas of Morocco or the Middle East) but Kayleigh appears somewhat stressed and a tad angry. Maybe the four kids trailing behind her pulling at her arm had something to do with that. It tells a story whatever the meaning.

Jesus Army Money Box – a nod to Northampton

Another piece I found interesting was ‘The Line of Departure’. A tapestry carpet in true Afghan style of three veterans from war in one context or another.

I was inspired by this piece because of a play I am currently working on and the general direction of the piece illustrating themes of war and offering a different perspective rather than the glamorisation of soldiers we’re often presented with.

Beyond the skilled execution of these pieces of art lay sensitive and intelligent messages about the human. The shadows’ behind the veterans, for example, suggest that war and conflict will always haunt and affect them in some way no matter what they are doing. The crossing of water is also a metaphor for the start of a new life but not quite being able to let go of the past.

The exhibition ran at The National Portrait Gallery between 25th October 2014 – 15th March 2015 and was free to attend