Tuesday, 17 January 2012

The Tomb of the Unknown Craftsman 2

I was with two friends from outside London, who were looking for an interesting exhibition to go to, so I ended up going to see the Grayson Perry again!  This was a great thing to do - it's the sort of show where you notice different things if you go more than once.  Once again I took rather random notes about anything that struck me, and here they are (quotes from GP in italics):

Do not look too hard for meaning here, I am not a historian, I am an artist, that's all you need to know.

Deep in the mountains of my mind there is a sacred place where there is a monument to skill

Journeys as pilgrimages

Early English motorcycle helmet: title of a GP piece that looks like something vaguely Viking from 1200 years ago that's just been excavated, displayed next to the helmet GP made for his trip round Europe with Alan Measles.

If Alan measles had been around in ancient Egypt he would have hung out with Bes.

A walk in Bloomsbury, an encounter with the world: 'the journey has become a tired metaphor of reality television, describing a transformative experience.'

Ritual can become stultified if not kept relevant to its time and context

Shrines - in your pocket, in a corner of your house, or by a roadside, portable.

I can make art with hardly any money and on the kitchen table
A forge for turning old people into young, Russian print 1800

Fallen giant - cf Jerusalem, I wanted to make something that was about England

The Rosetta vase, yellow, covered with incantations (see picture in my earlier post)

Boli or power figure, from Mali, raw potency, pared down, apparently modern

Everything in the BM was contemporary once. The frivolous now, companion to Rosetta. I wanted it to have the look of a mystical diagram whilst the content consisted of banalities and buzzwords of Feb 2011.

Hello kitty hand towel pilgrimage souvenir

We trust maps. I like maps of feelings, beliefs and the irrational, they use our trust of maps to persuade us that there might be some truth in their beauty.

The wheel of life Tibet 1900. A map and self-help chart combined

Map of truths and beliefs. The entire landscape is a graveyard

Pilgrims travel light so the souvenir may be only a badge, a photo or a signature.

pilgrim's progress: 1844 color map

Map based on Bunyan's Pilgrims Progress. 1800.


Votive stupas

Our father and mother - pilgrims made of iron

Tate Modern is the cathedral of the cult of modern art.


The chevalier d'Eon de Beaumont, 1728 - 1810.  French diplomat, spy, soldier and Freemason whose first 49 years were spent as a man, and whose last 33 years were spent as a woman. Died in England, buried in St Pancras churchyard.

Journeyman cabinet maker carrying the tools of his trade

Sheela-na-gig. PJ Harvey album of the same name

Do go and see this exhibition, whatever your craft, it's been extended for another month until February 26th.

This is the link to the British Museum teaser about the show: http://bri.mu/r0v6jH

Here's a link to the notes I took on my first visit to the exhibition: http://jayoptimistic.blogspot.co.uk/2011/12/grayson-perry-exhibition-tomb-of.html


  1. Wow! Who is this man? I'm agog. Don't know what to marvel over first ... Thank you for the introduction.

  2. Hi Narelle, maybe he will be exhibited in Australia soon - I only heard of him a couple of years ago when he won the Turner Prize, which is the most high-profile award for artists here in the UK. I hope you get a chance to see his stuff, because my two posts hardly give any kind of coherent picture of this exhibition, in which he mixes up his own work with artefacts and pieces he picked out from the entire collection at the British Museum. You'd think that would produce a show that was interesting and stimulating but eclectic and sort of random, but what's weird is that, as well as being all of those things, the show is the most coherent I remember ever going to. It really makes sense! GP has a wonderfully clear vision, both serious and wacky, of what he's doing and how that fits within, well, all cultures across time and space. That may sound like making too grand a claim for him, but I hope you get a chance soon to see his stuff and see whether you agree - if you do I hope you'll be in touch again!

  3. Hi Jay, oh I'd love it if he were to come here. And I've got just the perfect place for him! The new Museum of Old and New Art (MONA) in Hobart would snap him up. I'm sure he must be on their radar anyway.

    I just love that he made the celadon pot and then smashed it and repaired it with gold, and the pot with him marrying his teddy with all the leaders in the world in attendance. I'll read your other post about him anon. Thank you again. My mind felt like it had been pumped full of energy after I read your post.

  4. I think we each of us have our own private rituals, which comfort us - when I brush out the grate every morning, I am calmed by the movement of the ash - when I wrote shiny reports I was calmed by numbering all my paragraphs, like this - 1.0, 1.1 or even 1.1.1