Grayson Perry’s thoroughly contemporary series of portraits are taking their place among those of the old masters at the National Portrait Gallery in London as the Turner Prize winner looks at the issue of identity in modern Britain. Created as part of his Channel 4 television series of the same name, Grayson Perry: Who Are You? uses tapestry, sculpture and ceramics to present the stories of a diverse selection of people who are facing a crossroads in their lives. The works were made during the filming of his second television series (currently airing in the UK) from which Perry has rapidly found himself the country’s most revered contemporary artist, and aim to capture his subjects in a single concise image or object.
Disgraced politician Chris Huhne, being displayed opposite portraits of Gladstone and Disraeli, is represented by a vase decorated with recurring motifs including his own face, a speed camera and a personalised number plate (Huhne was jailled for perverting the course of justice after telling the police his wife was driving his car during a speeding offence). Perry purposely smashed the vase, mimicking Huhne’s political career, before rebuilding it using a Japanese technique involving lacquer resin mixed with gold. Other pieces look at a couple living with Alzheimer’s disease, a young transsexual, a Muslim convert and reality show contestant Rylan Clark. Grayson Perry: Who Are You? is free to the public and finishes on 15 March 2015.