Grayson Perry b. 1960


Private Collection, Europe

Clara Scremini Gallery, Paris

Oliver Sears Gallery, Dublin


Amsterdam, Stedelijk Museum, Guerilla Tactics, 18 May 2002 - 25 August 2002, cat no.16


Posh Art is closely related to an earlier ceramic The Ashes of Grayson Perry, 1988. The two works are almost identical in size and both take the form of funeral urns. In Jacky Klein's book on the artist, Grayson Perry states: ‘I was interested in the idea of funeral urns and made several of that ilk. Death and pottery have long gone together, and the way urns reference death is quite common. Pots are containers but they also have an anthropomorphism, with their necks, shoulders, bellies and feet’. 1

The details on the surface here include a sprig relief of Queen Elizabeth; images of hunting and shooting inspired by 19th century American folk pottery; horses’ bridles and the human brain, which features as the handle on the lid. Other, more prosaic, decoration comes in the form of the innards of a three pin plug and the lid from a can of drink. Drawn into the surface are two bank notes which read ‘Wank of England / Ten Quid’ and ‘Bonk ‘n England / Fiver’. Here the inherited wealth of the English upper classes is juxtaposed with the slang used to describe grubby, physical money. Using consciously clichéd images, Perry questions what it might mean to be ‘posh’, a now ridiculous, and uniquely British term, signifying bourgeois aspiration and pretentiousness.

Posh Art addresses the artist's ambivalent feelings towards the art world itself, and the notion of making money (earning a living) from art. This pun on the word ‘urn’, is made explicit in The Ashes of Grayson Perry which is inscribed ‘Grayson Perry made this urn to earn the money to buy the motorcycle on which he was killed’. These themes are explored in numerous other ceramics which take as their subject the 'new class' into which Perry has been invited, see for example, As Sold by the Anthony D'Offay Gallery, 1996, and A Network of Cracks (The Turner Prize Award Dinner 2003), 2004.

1 Jacky Klein, Grayson Perry, Thames & Hudson, London, 2013, pp36-37