Grayson Perry exhibition arrives at Salisbury Cathedral

From today, 29th June 2022, visitors to Salisbury Cathedral will come face-to-face with six huge tapestries created by the celebrated contemporary artist, Grayson Perry. 

The spectacular pieces are all part of his exhibition, The Vanity of Small Differences. Each tapestry, 4 metres by 2 metres, hangs vividly along the walls of the nave of Salisbury Cathedral.  They fit so well with the surroundings, it’s almost as if they belong. 

Beth Hughes and the team hanging the Grayson Perry tapestries at Salisbury Cathedral

Over the last decade the tapestries have been displayed in galleries, museums and stately homes, but this is the first time it has been seen in an ecclesiastical setting. 

Beth Hughes, Curator of Arts Council Collection, told Experience Salisbury seeing the tapestries finally unveiled at the Cathedral was a great moment: 

“Until you have the artworks in the space, you can never really anticipate those relationships and those ‘sparks’ that happen. When we put the first tapestry up beneath the stained-glass window, all of a sudden, the stained-glass window started to look more pink to me and you see the colours work together and pop together. Then, all of a sudden, the scale of the tapestries changed for me and the colours changed. Those are the type of things you just can’t plan for which happen when you’re in the space.” 

The Vanity of Small Differences at Salisbury Cathedral

Creating the pieces, Perry was inspired by William Hogarth’s The Rake’s Progress, a series of paintings that chart stages in the 'class journey' through the rise and fall of a man from working-class obscurity to greatness – and then back again. Many are packed with biblical scenes and themes telling a story of class and social climbing. 

The tapestries also include many of the characters, incidents and objects Grayson Perry encountered on journeys through Sunderland, Tunbridge Wells and The Cotswolds when filming a series for Channel 4 called 'All in the Best Possible Taste with Grayson Perry'. 

Talking to Experience Salisbury, The Very Rev Nicholas Papadopulos, the Dean of Salisbury, said:  

“It's really exciting. The size, the scale and the colour is quite overwhelming. They look stunning in the Cathedral.  

What inspired the original artworks was of course buildings like this and the story that buildings like this tell. So, in a sense, by exhibiting these works here, we’re bringing the works back where they belong.” 

The Dean of Salisbury looks over the new exhibition at Salisbury Cathedral

How can I see the Grayson Perry exhibition at Salisbury Cathedral? 

The Vanity of Small Differences is now open to the public at Salisbury Cathedral until 25th September 2022. No additional booking is required as the exhibition is included in standard Cathedral entry.  

Don’t forget, if you live in the SP1 and SP2 postcode areas, or Laverstock, you can get free entry to the cathedral with proof of residency. 

For more information about the Grayson Perry exhibition at Salisbury Cathedral, click here. 

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