Grayson Perry (British, b.1960) was born in Chelmsford, England, and lived in Bicknacre after his father left the family. Perry cited his father's departure as having a large impact on his life. His mother remarried, and Perry attended Woodham Ferrers Church of England School and King Edward VI Grammar School. His stepfather was violent, and young Perry often hid in his father's old shed. During these difficult times, Perry often used his imagination, creating a fantasy life for himself.
Perry became interested in building model airplanes, and enjoyed riding motorcycles. He considered training as an army officer, and became involved in the local punk movement of the 1970s. Perry had unconventional tastes and sometimes dressed as a woman. After going out on his own, Perry decided to become an artist. He studied at Braintree College of Further Education from 1978 to 1979, and received a BA from Portsmouth Polytechnic in 1982. The young artist spent time in squat houses and was often poor. He developed an interest in pottery and took lessons at the Central Institute. His first pieces were glazed plates covered in text, because he was not yet skilled enough to produce anything else.
Eventually, Perry's skills improved, and he created many talented works such as Saint Claire 37 walks across Northern Spain. The brightly colored earthenware urn is textured and decorated with photos and hand-drawn images. The Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam displayed his work in 2002, and one year later he became the first ceramic artist to be given the Turner Prize. The artist continued to dress as a woman and attended the award presentation in drag.
In 2005, Perry became the subject of the documentary, Why Men Wear Frocks. In the film, he discussed his life as a transvestite and the impact his lifestyle had on his family. Perry's style is a combination of Greek influences and Folk Art techniques. Cuddly Toys Caught on Barbed Wire features young girls in pretty dresses against an eerie backdrop. The artist said, "One of the reasons I dress up as a woman is my low self-esteem, to go with the image of women being seen as second class. It is like pottery: that's seen as a second-class thing too."
Perry's work has been showcased at the Victoria Miro Gallery in London and the Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh. Perry is married and currently resides in London.
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