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Arts Council Collection and British Council acquire Grayson Perry The Vanity of Small Differences

Submitted by on December 1, 2012 – 9:33 am

Arts Council Collection and British Council announced 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 artist. Grayson Perry, The Vanity of Small Differences, 2012

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.

he 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. – www.artscouncilcollection.org.uk

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