The Arts Council Collection and British Council, announced today (30 November) the joint acquisition of Grayson Perry’s The Vanity of Small Differences, a series of six tapestries Perry created this year alongside the Channel 4 series ‘All in the Best Possible Taste with Grayson Perry’, his exploration of British taste. This major work, gifted to the Arts Council Collection and the British Council by the artist and Victoria Miro Gallery, London, was supported by Channel 4 Television, the Art Fund, and Sfumato Foundation.
The gift is a significant act of philanthropy on behalf of the artist and partners involved, and recognises the unique domestic and international reach of these two great national Collections. The Arts Council Collection and the British Council Collection work to maximise opportunities for British artists and arts institutions in the UK and overseas, and this collaboration gives the widest possible audience a chance to see this important work.
Speaking today Grayson Perry said: “I am hugely pleased and proud that The Vanity of Small Differences will be shared by the Arts Council and British Council Collections because this means the work will be able to travel all around the country and the world. Thanks also to the Art Fund, Sfumato Foundation and Channel 4; their supportmeans the tapestries now have a chance to reach a very wide and varied audience. Of all the pieces I have made this was the one I conceived from the outset as a public artwork. I hope that wherever it goes it not only delights the eye but also sparks debate about class, taste and British society.”
The Vanity of Small Differences, which to date has only been displayed at the Victoria Miro Gallery in London, will begin a national and international exhibitions tour by going on display at the Sunderland Museum and Winter Garden in June 2013. The exhibition, which will run until the end of September 2013, is part of the Festival of the North East which celebrates the return of the Lindisfarne Gospels to Durham Cathedral next summer.
It is of particular significance that the works begin their public tour in Sunderland as this is where Grayson sets the first two tapestries The Adoration of the Cage Fighters and The Agony in the Car Park. The tour will continue to Manchester Art Gallery in late 2013, with exhibitions at Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, the Walker Art Gallery in Liverpool and Temple Newsam House in Leeds confirmed for 2014. An international tour will follow.
The Vanity of Small Differences tells the story of class mobility and the influence social class has on our aesthetic taste. Inspired by William Hogarth’s A Rake’s Progress the six tapestries, measuring 2m x 4m each, chart the “class journey” made by young Tim Rakewell and include many of the characters, incidents and objects Grayson Perry encountered on journeys through Sunderland, Tunbridge Wells and The Cotswolds for the television series ‘All in the Best Possible Taste with Grayson Perry’. The television programmes were first aired on Channel 4 in June 2012. In the series Perry goes “on a safari amongst the taste tribes of Britain”, to gather inspiration for his artwork, literally weaving the characters he meets into a narrative, with an attention to the minutiae of contemporary taste every bit as acute as that in Hogarth’s 18th century paintings.
The Arts Council Collection, which is run by Southbank Centre on behalf of Arts Council England, is one of Britain’s foremost national collections of post-war British Art. As a collection ‘without walls’, it has no permanent gallery; it can be seen on long term loan to museums, galleries, schools, hospitals, colleges and charitable associations and in touring exhibitions and displays at home and abroad. It is also, importantly, one of the most widely circulated and easily accessible collection of its kind, with nearly 8000 works available for loan. Established in 1946 to promote and enrich knowledge of contemporary art, the Collection continues to acquire works by artists, many at an early stage of their career, living and working in Britain and to foster the widest possible access to modern and contemporary across the UK. It includes work by Francis Bacon, Tracey Emin, Lucian Freud, Antony Gormley, Barbara Hepworth, David Hockney, Anish Kapoor, Henry Moore, Bridget Riley and Wolfgang Tillmans. For more information visit www.artscouncilcollection.org.uk.
The British Council creates international opportunities for the people of the UK and other countries and builds trust between them worldwide. We are a Royal Charter charity, established as the UK’s international organisation for educational opportunities and cultural relations. Our 7000 staff in over 100 countries work with thousands of professionals and policy makers and millions of young people every year through English, arts, education and society programmes. We earn over 75% of our annual turnover of nearly £700 million from services which customers pay for, education and development contracts we bid for and from partnerships. A UK Government grant provides the remaining 25%. We match every £1 of core public funding with over £3 earned in pursuit of our charitable purpose.