Artist Grayson Perry curates Unpopular Culture – an Arts Council touring exhibition currently showing at the Harris Museum and Art Gallery, Preston. Perry’s selection of figurative painting, documentary photography and bronze sculpture is a personal narrative of Britain from the late 1940s to the 1980s. Brilliantly conceived, it juxtaposes stark black and white images of the working class – pub-goers, beauty pageants and harassed dads – alongside vigorous and lyrical paintings by Auerbach, Burra and Carel Weight and bronzes by Moore and Paolozzi.
Perry has produced two works in response to the exhibition – a large ceramic vessel inset with cameos of a woman in a headscarf and a bronze skull (a response to Hirst’s Diamond skull), an icon of Britishness and relic of colonialism. ‘Arrangement in Turquoise and Cream’ (1979-81), a painting by David Hepher dominates the exhibition; the decaying facade of a 1950s tower block is interrupted only by the vibrancy of its ‘grubby’ curtains and a pink blanket – a reminder of the opening scene in Billy Liar which tracks a panoramic vista of post-war urban regeneration along to a sound-bite from Housewife’s Choice.
Unpopular Culture is a refreshing and optimistic antidote to the blockbuster show, reflected in its choice of venues; Bexhill-on-Sea, Preston, Durham, Southampton, Aberystwyth, Scarborough, Wakefield and Bath. A cloth-bound catalogue and limited edition silk headscarf designed by Perry accompany the exhibition.
Unpopular Culture, Harris Museum & Art Gallery. Exhibition runs until 13 September 2008.
(Contact gallery for opening times: 01772 258248).
Grayson Perry interviewed at Aesthetica magazine (August 2010) (Sound bite)