The inspiration behind Perry's Pots

September 20, 2023
The inspiration behind Grayson Perry's Pots

Personal Identity and Self-exploration

One of the most prominent inspirations for Perry's work is his own life and experiences. Grayson has never been shy about discussing his cross-dressing alter ego, Claire, and his explorations of gender and identity. This personal journey is frequently reflected in his works. The vases become a canvas where Perry expresses the multiplicities of identity and the fluidity of gender, prompting viewers to question societal norms. Works such as showcase the artist looking to understand himself and explore childhood trauma. Perry’s ability to capture dark and painful emotions in beautifully decorated vases is a testament to him as an artist and a story teller.

Social Commentary

Perry’s vases are far from mere decorative objects. They are potent tools for social commentary. By juxtaposing the conventional and beautiful form of a vase with depictions of modern life, Perry challenges preconceived notions about art, society, and their intersection. He often incorporates tabloid headlines, brand logos, and other symbols of popular culture, pointing out the incongruities and absurdities of contemporary society.

Indeed, writing in the catalogue notes for Christie’s ahead of the auction of Saint Claire 37 Wanks Across Spain, esteemed Art Critic Waldemar Januszczak has said, “‘This is what [Perry] is best at: nimble social observation laced with sardonic knowingness. He’s a sarky collector of telling details who uses humour as his primary weapon … The DNA of this quintessentially British cheekiness can be traced back to Hogarth ... Like Hogarth, Perry uses humour as both a weapon and a delivery system connecting him to the bigger audience he seeks to address’

Historical and Cultural References

Perry's vases are deeply rooted in history, but they are far from old-fashioned. He often nods to ancient pottery techniques and styles, drawing inspiration from various cultures and epochs. This historical connection provides a stark contrast to the contemporary subjects he depicts, creating a rich dialogue between the past and the present.

Maps, the very medium of ceramics and embroidery, showcase a multi-disciplined artist who is not afraid to explore different mediums. His maps, in particular, see Perry examine the past - often nationalism and identity - and rework the concepts through a stylised, kitsch narrative. 


Grayson Perry - Artist - Saatchi Gallery


Craftsmanship and Tradition

In an age of mass-produced and digital art, Perry’s commitment to the age-old craft of pottery is noteworthy. His pieces, though modern in theme, are rooted in the meticulous traditions of ceramics. This dedication to craft, combined with his unique voice, elevates the vases from mere vessels to thought-provoking pieces of art. Likewise, in Grayson Perry's etchings, we see an artist who is a dept at using traditional techniques with modern themes. This blending of the old with the new creates an almost hyperreal sense within uncanny works that seem to be of a bygone era yet communicate such a sense of the now. 

Humour and Irony

Perry's keen sense of humour is evident in his work. Despite the heavy themes, there’s often an underlying wit and irony in his designs. By injecting humour into his pieces, Perry makes them more accessible, inviting viewers to engage in a dialogue about complex issues in a less confrontational manner.

Exploration of Beauty and Aesthetics

Perry’s vases, with their vibrant colours and intricate designs, are undeniably beautiful. However, the artist often plays with the concept of beauty by juxtaposing attractive patterns with controversial or shocking imagery. This approach challenges viewers to reconsider their ideas about beauty and aesthetics.


Grayson Perry's Pottery | Seattle Artist League

In conclusion, Grayson Perry's vases are not merely decorative objects but thought-provoking pieces of art that challenge, inspire, and captivate. His unique blend of personal exploration, social commentary, and masterful craftsmanship ensures his work remains both relevant and timeless, inviting viewers to engage in a rich dialogue with the world around them. Discover our collection of Grayson Perry prints and Grayson perry artworks for sale and contact Andipa via or call +44 (0)20 7581 1244.

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Acoris Andipa