Grayson Perry Tapestry Exhibition at Temple Newsam

grayson perry temple newsam leeds

‘The Vanity of Small Differences’ comes to Temple Newsam House

Temple Newsam House in Leeds, one of the great historic houses of England and known for its outstanding collections, is due to host an extraordinary exhibition of tapestries by Turner Prize winning artist Grayson Perry. Entitled ‘The Vanity of Small Differences’, this series of six tapestries will be on display from August 23 to December 7 2014 providing the final location on the exhibition’s UK tour, supported by the Art Fund and Sfumato Foundation.

Renowned for its collections of fine and decorative arts as well as textiles, Temple Newsam House provides the perfect backdrop for the exhibition and is the only venue on the UK tour to host the exhibition within an historic setting. Temple Newsam House is the final location for the tour in the UK which has so far taken in some of the country’s key art locations, such as Sunderland Museum in the Winter Garden, Manchester Art Gallery, Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery and Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool. Temple Newsam House House is a physical representation of 500-years of taste and fashion revealed in the changes to the building, its interiors and the collections within it. Owners of this once home have, over time, reflected their individuality and their class by surrounding themselves by what they were given, collected or bought.

“The house physically epitomises themes of class and British society”

With the tapestries displayed on specially-made frames exclusively handcrafted to suspend from Temple Newsam’s hanging rails, this exhibition is cleverly woven into the permanent collection of a suite of rooms in one wing of the house. An opportunity that Leeds Museums and Galleries Keeper Bobbie Robertson appreciates: “This house charts a course through the changing styles of country house taste and fashions determined by the English wealthy elite and historic wall hangings are an integral part of some of the stylistic features. The house physically epitomises these themes of class and British society, with the tapestries representing contemporary views on this society.

Grayson Perry has infused a clever mix of form and colour to portray his fascination with taste, how this affects our choices and what it means. The images are imposing and, somehow as a nation, we understand each tapestry perfectly. How Perry has shown this is supremely clever and these tapestries displayed amongst our collection at Temple Newsam House make complete sense. We couldn’t be more delighted to host this daring exhibition here in Leeds.”

The work was gifted to the Arts Council Collection managed by the Southbank Centre and British Council last year, by the artist and Victoria Miro Gallery, London, supported by Channel 4 Television, the Art Fund, Sfumato Foundation, and Alix Partners. These tapestries were created by Perry in 2012 alongside the Channel 4 BAFTA award winning series All in the Best Possible Taste with Grayson Perry. This landmark series charted Perry’s fascination with taste. The tapestries tell the story of 21st century social mobility through the fictional character, Tim Rakewell. Perry’s tapestries make direct reference to the series of paintings A Rake’s Progress by William Hogarth.

“See the tapestries in a unique historical setting”

Perry cites Hogarth (1697 – 1764) as an influence on his work and the exhibition at Temple Newsam will be accompanied by a selection of Hogarth’s A Rake’s Progress from Leeds Art Gallery, and a schedule that includes talks, tours and events to appeal to its wide audience.

Jill Constantine, Acting Head, Arts Council Collection says: “Temple Newsam House is the final venue for the tapestries this year. It then goes on an overseas tour in 2015 with co-owners, The British Council. Since June 2013 over 356,000 people have seen the tapestries in galleries across the UK. I am delighted that for the last showing, people will have the opportunity to see the tapestries in the unique historical setting at Temple Newsam.”


“Digital guide”

To coincide with the display, the Arts Council Collection is launching an App for iPad and iPhone. It is produced by Aimer Media with commentary from the artist, art historical references and a guide to the making of the works. This is Perry’s first App. It will give users the chance to see the tapestries up close with a detailed zoom facility. It also includes Perry’s own audio guide. The digital guide, Grayson Perry: The Vanity of Small Differences, is available only on the App Store (£1.99).

Entrance to the exhibition is free with normal admission to the house. A special service on the number 10 bus will be running from Leeds City centre direct to Temple Newsam House during the exhibition. The organisers wish to point out that the exhibition is not wheelchair accessible.

All images © Stephen White


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