Aspects of Grayson Perry’s Tapestries

‘The Adoration of the Cage Fighters’gp358the-adoration-cage-fighters2012-full

This is Tim’s great grand mother’s living room. Tim is seen in his mothers arms, reaching for her smartphone-his rival for attention. Tim appears a second time on the stairs aged four, facing another evening alone in front of the screen. Tim’s mother and four friends are dressed up for a night out, while surrounded by objects paying homage to Sunderland, their working class town.

(Text found on the tapestry, in the voice of Tim’s Mother) ‘I could have got to Uni, but I did the best I could, considering his father upped and left. He (Tim) was always a clever little boy, he knows how to wind me up. My mother liked a drink, my father likes one too. Ex-miner a real man, open with his love, and his anger. My Nan though is the salt of the earth, the boy loves her. She spent her whole life looking after others. There are no jobs round here anymore, just the gym and the football. A normal family, a divorce of two, mental illness, addiction, domestic violence… the usual thing… My friends keep me sane… take me out.. listen… a night out of the weekend in town is a precious ritual.’

Perry took inspiration from Andrea Mantegna’s ‘The Adoration at the Shepherds’ adoration-of-the-shepherds-1456-jpglarge

‘The Agony in the Car Park’gp359_the-agony-in-the-car-park_2012-full

Tim’s step father stands centrally in front of a child-like shipyard crane which stands for the crucifix. Tim’s mother kneels beside him, Tim kneels opposite his mother. They are surrounded by architecture of Sunderland. A younger Tim played with his step grandfather. Mrs T and the call centre manager await a new recruit in to the middle class (bottom right).

(Text found on the tapestry, in the voice of Tim’s Step Father) ‘I started as a lad in the shipyards. I followed in my father’s footsteps. Now Dad has his pigeons and he loves the boy. Shipbuilding bound the town together like a religion. When Thatcher closed the yards down it ripped the heart out of the community. I could have been in a rock band. I met the boy’s mother at the club I sing on a Saturday night between the bingo and the meat raffle. Now I work in a call centre, the boss thinks I’m management material. The money’s good, I could buy my council house, sell it and get out. I voted Tory last time. ‘ 

Perry took inspiration from Giovanni Bellini’s ‘The Agony in the Garden’

‘Expulsion From Number 8 Eden Close’gp360_expulsion-from-number-8-eden-close_2012-full

Tim’s mother and step farther on the left now live on a private development in Tunbridge Wells and own a luxury car. She hovers the AstroTurf lawn, he returns from a golf game. The are watched over by Jamie Oliver the god of social mobility. A diner party on the right – Tim’s girlfriends parents (foreground couple) and fellow guests toast the new arrival. Tim is at university studying computer science and steady with a girl from Tunbridge Wells.

(Text found on the tapestry, in the voice of Tim’s Girlfriend) ‘I met Tim at college, he was such a geek. He took me back to meet his mother and stepfather. Their house was so clean and tidy, not a speck of dust… or a book, apart from her god, Jamie. She says I have turned Tim into a snob. His parents don’t appreciate how bright he is. My father laughed at Tim’s accent but welcomed him into the sunlit uplands of the middle classes. I hope Tim looses his obsession with money.’ 

Perry took inspiration from Masaccio’s ‘The Expulsion from the green of Eden’


‘The Annunciation of the Virgin Deal’gp361_the-annunciation-of-the-virgin-deal_2012-full

Tim sits on the vintage sofa holding his infant child, while his wife is on her smart phone. His parents-in-law read and his elder child plays on the rug. Tim’s colleague and mother-in-law both wear Issey Miyake, a Japanese fashion designer known for his technology-driven clothing, exhibitions and fragrances. The newspaper and online article on the iPad show Tim’s success. Other items on the table and around the room show how middle class Tim has become- Along with his modest unwashed car in the driveway. On the wall behind Tim are two portraits of Tim’s heros, Steve Jobs and Bill Gates.

(Text found on the tapestry, in the voice of Tim’s Business partner) ‘I have worked with Tim for a decade, a genius, yet so down to earth. Tim’s incredibly driven, he never feels successful. He’s calmer since his mother died. He’s had a lot of therapy. He wants to be good’ 

Perry took inspiration from Carlo Crivelli’s ‘The Annunciation with St. Emidius’. In addition the convex mirror on the wall and the discarded shoes are reminders of ‘The Arnolfini Portrait’ by jan Van Eyck.

‘The Upper Class at Bay’ gp362_the-upper-classes-at-bay_2012-full

Tim and his wife are now in their forties and they children are grown. On the branch above them is a crow, the symbol of mortality. There are protests outside their home, one is silhouetted between the stags antlers. This refers to paintings of the vision of saint Hubert, who was converted on seeing a vision of a crucifix above the head of a stag. The old aristocratic stag with its tattered tweed hide is being hunted down by the dogs of tax, social change, upkeep and fuel bills. The scene is in the Cotswolds, with a deeply-rooted, landed upper class association, due to the prevalence of meadows, stone stately homes among the rolling hills of the area.

(There is no hidden text in this tapestry)

Perry took inspiration from Thomas Gainsborough’s ‘Mr and Mrs Andrews’



The scene is the aftermath of a car accident near a retail park. Tim dies in the arms of a stranger. His glamorous second wife stands stunned and blood stained amid the wreckage of his Ferrari. The contents of her expensive handbag spill out over a copy of Hello magazine, with her and Tim on the cover. Onlookers take photos on their camera phones to upload onto the internet.

(Text found on the tapestry, in the voice of a female passer-by) ‘ We were walking home from a night out, these two cars, racing each other, speed past. Middle aged men showing off, the red one lost control. The driver wasn’t wearing a seatbelt. He didn’t stand a chance. I’m a nurse. I tried to save the man but he died in my arms. It was only afterwards I found out that he was that famous computer guy, Bakewell. All he said was “Mother”. All that money and he dies in the gutter.’ 

Perry took inspiration from Rogier van der Weyden’s ‘Lamentation’ rogier_van_der_weyden_-_pieta_-_google_art_project


Author: Crisiant Williams

I am a Fine Art student, studying at Cardiff School of Art and Design.

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