I saw the exhibition, Grayson Perry: The Tomb of the Unknown Craftsman at the British Museum (running until Feb. 26). The show combines works from the British Museum’s collections chosen by Perry and ceramics, textiles, metalwork and other works of art -- both made in response to the British Museum pieces and past work—by the artist.
For people who appreciate vintage “stuff,” I’d highly recommend seeing this exhibit. Perry’s commentary on the labels highlights the fact that there was a craftsperson behind each artifact and reminds us of the meaning instilled in various types of objects. Nowadays, too many material items used in daily life—clothing, housewares, electronics—are throwaway with little value placed on them. The artifacts in this exhibit are from times and cultures when and where material items were treasured and infused with meaning. Perry’s work carries on that tradition, reflecting contemporary issues and sensibilities—and serving as an example of how the historical pieces were viewed in their own day.
In talking about his experience in choosing objects for the show, in a Guardian interview, Grayson relates,
Each object is stored and packed with great care whether it is a million-year-old flint tool or a Hello Kitty hand-towel. As soon as an object is in the custodianship of the museum it is treated as precious and important. To look at one African textile might take half an hour of finding, donning of gloves, unpacking, checking, repacking. I soon realised that no way was I going to see more than a tiny fraction of the 8 million objects housed in the museum in the flesh.
I guess my innate reverence for objects made me ideally suited for my 14-year career as a museum curator. Unfortunately, it means I rarely throw anything out.