‘Consumerism is very lazy. It’s a sort of sugar rush, like eating sweets … Luxury goods are dangled in front of us because people can make money out of them, not because they give any lasting satisfaction.’
On 2 December 2003, Grayson Perry (born 1960) accepted the coveted Turner Prize wearing a lilac babydoll dress. Equally famous for his ceramics and his cross-dressing, he became a celebrity overnight. A self-confessed lover of ‘beautiful things’, his work delights in the possibilities of the decorative surface. Colour, texture and pattern are all used to attract the eye and draw us in. The power of his work lies in the deliberate clash between form and content – between beautiful objects and the challenging, often disturbing subject matter they address.
This exhibition is a rare opportunity to see one of Perry’s most powerful works, a vast tapestry (3m x 15m) exploring the impact of branding and advertising on our everyday lives. Chronicling man’s passage from birth to death ‘via the shops’, Perry captures all the humdrum details of our daily lives. His exploration of the corrosive powers of consumerism throws up some interesting parallels with William Morris, who expressed similar ideas over a century earlier. Both also share a connection to the Walthamstow area, where Perry has had his studio for many years.
With insightful contributions from the artist himself, the exhibition will explore the motivation and inspiration behind the creation of the Walthamstow Tapestry. In a world where it is seemingly impossible to escape the power of advertising, this work encourages us to consider the feelings and emotions that different brands evoke in our own lives.