I visited this exhibition of the six tapestries created during the filming of the documentary ‘All in the Best Possible Taste’. Grayson Perry was inspired by William Hogarth’s ‘A Rake’s Progress’ as the tapestries follow the progress of a fictional modern day character, Tim Rakewell. The narrative through the six tapestries is how your ‘class’ within the modern age is defined by both your taste and ability to purchase a certain type of product; therefore you can move through the class system by purchasing items associated with a particular class. In effect, consumerism is defining the group to which you belong.
The six tapestries, with titles that refer back to religious works, are:
The Adoration of the Cage Fighters
The Agony in the Car Park
Expulsion from Number 8 Eden Close
The Annunciation of the Virgin Deal
The Upper Classes at Bay
The first thing that struck me on entering the gallery was the vibrant colours, large size and the illustrative nature of the images in the tapestries. As well as the story of the characters, the colours used in the tapestries linked the series, particularly a vivid red and pink. Also, motifs such as Make Tea, Not War in The Annunciation of the Virgin Deal and No War but Class War in The Upper Class at Bay, provide a visual link. At first the narrative presented by Grayson Perry seems quite obvious, however, the more I looked at them the more I saw, even down to the use of tapestry itself as a medium which was at one time only owned by the upper classes.
I think the depiction of popular cultural items (references to shopping, soap operas, etc.) and the stylised drawings is both a comment by the artist on the nature of modern society and a deliberate move to engage wider general public who may not normally visit galleries.
Venue: The Beaney House of Art & Knowledge, Canterbury, Kent