Grayson Perry’s The Vanity of Small Differences are on display at The Lightbox gallery and museum in Woking until June 2.
The six large-scale tapestries exploring the British fascination with social class, created by the Turner Prize-winning artist as a result of his acclaimed TV series, are part of the Arts Council Collection. This is their first public display in Surrey.
Inspired by the characters, incidents and objects the artist encountered during the making of his Channel 4 documentary series All in the Best Possible Taste, the tapestries evolved from drawings and photography Perry made whilst travelling around England in search of what is deemed to be “good taste”.
In The Vanity of Small Differences, Perry shares a story of 21st-century social mobility. The tapestries chart the life of a fictional character, Tim Rakewell, whose “class journey” has parallels with that of his 18th-century namesake, Tom Rakewell, the central figure in William Hogarth’s A Rake’s Progress (1732-34).
As Hogarth told his tale in a series of eight paintings, Perry shares the rise and ultimate demise of Tim Rakewell in this series of six 2m x 4m tapestries – an art form traditionally associated with grand houses for the depiction of great historical, religious and military scenes.
Perry said: “The tapestries tell the story of class mobility, for I think nothing has as strong an influence on our aesthetic taste as the social class in which we grow up.
“I am interested in the politics of consumerism and the history of popular design but for this project I focus on the emotional investment we make in the things we choose to live with, wear, eat, read or drive.
“Class and taste run deep in our character - we care. This emotional charge is what draws me to a subject.”
Sarah Brown, director of The Lightbox, said: “We are thrilled that The Lightbox will host this exhibition, which marks Grayson Perry’s first solo exhibition in Surrey.
“Creating local opportunities to experience the best contemporary and modern art is at the heart of what we do, and through our exhibitions, activities and community events we work hard to ensure that as many people as possible can benefit.
“We share with Grayson a firm belief that ‘art is good for you’, and never have we needed it more. This exhibition will provide inspiration and we look forward to welcoming visitors.”
Anyone who would like further information on opening hours and admission prices, should visit www.thelightbox.org.uk