AFTER an anything but normal year, otherwise known as the year of the new normal – alas destined to stretch into 2021 – here comes outré artist, potter and social commentator Grayson Perry’s York-bound live show.
In his own words: Despite being an award-winning artist, Bafta-winning TV presenter, Reith lecturer and best-selling author, Grayson Perry is a normal person – and just like other normal people, he is “marginally aware that we’re all going to die”.
Cue Grayson Perry: A Show For Normal People, booked into York Barbican for September 6 on night number five of next year’s 23-date tour. Sheffield City Hall awaits on September 10; Harrogate Convention Centre on November 27.
What will be on the 2003 Turner Prize winner’s mind? “Let Grayson take you through an enlightening and eye-watering evening in which this kind of existentialism descends from worthiness to silliness. You’ll leave safe and warm in the knowledge that nothing really matters anyway,” his show patter promises.
“Join Grayson as he asks, and possibly answers, these big questions in an evening sure to distract you from the very meaninglessness of life in the way only a man in a dress can.”
Born in Chelmsford, Essex, in 1960, Perry has had an artistic career spanning 40 years, revealing a diverse expertise in “making lemonade out of the mundanity of life”.
Such as? In 2015, he designed A House For Essex, a permanent building constructed in the North Essex countryside. In the early weeks of Lockdown 1 2020, his Channel 4 show, Grayson’s Art Club, brought the nation together through art as he exhorted and celebrated the making of new works, vowing to “battle the boredom of isolation” with a weekly theme from his London studio.
This autumn, Grayson Perry’s Big American Road Trip, his three-part documentary travelogue on Channel 4, explored the meaning of the American Dream in today’s disunited USA.
Tickets for Grayson Perry: A Show For Normal People go on sale tomorrow morning (27/11/2020) at 10am online only at yorkbarbican.co.uk.
This will not be the only Grayson Perry show in York in 2021. His Covid-crocked 2020 exhibition of “lost pots” at York Art Gallery will now run from May 28 to September 5 next year.
This major new display of Perry’s earliest works, Grayson Perry: The Pre-Therapy Years, will be showcased in the Centre of Ceramic Art (CoCA).
Developed by the Holburne Museum in Bath, the touring exhibition is the first to celebrate Perry’s earliest forays into the art world, reintroducing the “explosive and creative works” he made between 1982 and 1994.
The 70 works have been crowd-sourced through a national public appeal, resulting in these “lost pots” being assembled for display together for the first time since they were made.
“This show has been such a joy to put together,” said Perry, when the show was first announced. “I’m really looking forward to seeing these early works again, many of which I have not seen since the Eighties.
“It’s 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.”
The Pre-Therapy Years show should have been the centre of attention at CoCA from June 12 to September 20 this year, but the Coronavirus pandemic intervened.
Now, Perry devotees can look to the horizon, awaiting the arrival of his pots in York next May.The exhibition will shine a light on Perry’s experimentation and exploration of the potential of pottery to address radical issues and human stories.
The 70 works will provide an opportunity to enjoy his clever, playful and politically engaged perspective on the world as these often challenging and explicit pieces reveal his early steps towards becoming a compelling commentator on contemporary society.
From his first plate, Kinky Sex (1983), to his early vases made in the mid-80s, Perry riffed on British vernacular traditions to create a language of his own. The themes of his later work – fetishism, gender, class, his home county of Essex and the vagaries of the art world – appear in these early works, marked by their urgent energy.
CoCA first exhibited a Grayson Perry ceramic, Melanie, in July 2015 as its centrepiece talking point after York Art Gallery’s £8 million transformation. Melanie later featured in York Art Gallery’s re-opening exhibition, Your Art Gallery – Paintings Chosen By You, this summer into autumn.