Salisbury Cathedral to host Grayson Perry exhibition

An exhibition by the celebrated contemporary artist, Grayson Perry, is to open at Salisbury Cathedral later this month.

The Vanity of Small Differences will showcase six huge tapestries that explore class mobility.

Each piece is 2m by 4m and has been 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.

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'.

One of the six Grayson Perry tapestries you'll see at Salisbury Cathedral

The artworks have toured extensively over the last few years, but this is the first time that they will have been seen in an ecclesiastical setting, which the cathedral says opens up a great opportunity 'to create a dialogue around the subject matter.'

Artist Grayson Perry said:

“I am hugely pleased and proud that The Vanity of Small Differences is being shared by the Arts Council and British Council Collections in this way. The work has travelled all around the country and the world – and now to Salisbury Cathedral, for this first showing in a religious space. It was conceived as a public artwork, and I wanted to see them shared with very wide and varied audiences. My hope remains that for those visiting the exhibition in Salisbury Cathedral, it not only delights the eye and engages visitors, but also sparks debate about class, taste and British society.”

Another of the Grayson Perry tapestries in The Vanity of Small Differences

Salisbury Cathedral is known for its art exhibitions, which are used to explore questions about contemporary society and faith as well as exhibit exceptional art. Welcoming this new exhibition, The Very Revd Nicholas Papadopulos, Dean of Salisbury, said:

“Perry’s subject in this sequence is social class, and the myriad ways in which not only economic factors but also habits and tastes differentiate human beings one from another. This can be challenging. Perry asks us to see ourselves as others may see us, and he also asks us to acknowledge the ways in which we judge others. This, I believe, is worthy of exploration in a Cathedral context. Self-questioning and self-reflection are vital disciplines in the life of faith, just as welcoming and honouring people from every walk of life is part of our vocation as a place of prayer and worship and as a place which is visited by thousands.”

The Vanity of Small Differences exhibition comes by courtesy of the Arts Council Collection, Southbank Centre London and British Council, and by gift of the artist and Victoria Miro Gallery with the support of Channel 4 Television, the Art Fund and Sfumato Foundation with additional support from AlixPartners.

You will be able to see the fascinating Grayson Perry exhibition at Salisbury Cathedral from 29th June to 25th September 2022.

No additional booking required, the exhibition is included in standard Cathedral entry. Find more information on the Salisbury Cathedral website here.

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