Part 2 Kaylyn Deveney and Karen Knorr

On checking my blog for assessment I found that some work was missing from Part 2. I add it here. I had viewed the work but for some reason not written it up.

Kaylynn Deveney’s series The Day to Day Life of Albert Hastings achieves something remarkable. The images are gentle and thoughtful but it’s not just that – it’s the way that she’s closed the loop by asking Alfred to caption them. Sharon Boothroyd does something similar with the Polaroid “I’d get my feet in” shown in the course notes, and of course Gillian Wearing’s “Signs that say what you want them to say…”  I wonder what would happen if you worked the other way around with the subject taking the picture and the photographer captionning them. It certainly makes me realise that when the same person has control of both the image and the text, there’s a lack of input from anyone else and the possible readings of the work are tightened.

Karen Knorr is someone whose work I still struggle to engage with fully despite the fact that it makes strong points very eloquently. I think it feels very polished, a little cold at the edges, and I know that this is probably the point of the Gentlemen series. Her combination of images and text shows how ingrained the patriarchy was at the time of the work – I know that things have changed a bit since then but I wonder how much. I very much like the method that she has used here and I would be interested to learn more about where the text came from. When I look at this work it reminds me of the Channel 4 documentary when Grayson Perry met Chris Huhne and made a vase that featured patterns inclding Huhne’s head, speed cameras and a penis. It struck me on the documentary that Huhne was quite pleased to be honoured in a pot rather than humbled or pausing to think on his actions. This view is suggested by Perry in a Radio Times piece. (Radio Times 22.10.14)

Grayson laughs. “No, that confidence! I don’t think he has uncertainties. He’s Teflon!” He had wanted this subject particularly because “making the series, from the word go we were looking for differences of race, religion, sex. But I said that I was also interested in the people in charge: middle-class, middle-aged, male – they’re a group too. They hide in a suit and they don’t think they’re an ethnic group but they are. It’s like people who speak RP and think they have no accent. I needed a guy who is all those things but then has a big disrupted moment. Prison!”

I think that Karen shows this approach too – she’s making this “invisible in plain sight” group visible, and her use of text shows how entrenched that group and its attitudes are (or were at the time).




Grayson Perry The Most Popular Art Exhibition Ever

I went to see this at the Bristol Arnolfini with Holly Woodward. Grayson Perry always seems slightly familiar to me. I saw an exhibition of his tapestries (The Vanity of Small Differences) in Bath a couple of years ago, and have read some of his books and watched several of his tv programmes. It felt a bit odd to be going to see work that I was already familiar with, but I was curious about the staging and also wanted to see what his ceramics looked like in real life.

It is a huge exhibition over three floors, and was sufficiently crowded for me to think that indeed it may be the most popular art exhibition ever. There’s a mix of media – as you would expect – from ceramics to sculpture to tapestry, carpet, bicycles… The exhibition is pitched to everyone and it must be an uneasy balance to maintain – working with the people on the street whilst selling to the art elite. He’s obviously aware of this, as you can tell from the “Puff Piece” vase which is covered with fictional art critic quotes.


His work depends massively on text, and not just text but handwriting, print, logos, currency, typeface, icons….  I think that some of the sculpture didn’t include text but text was definitely in the majority. I suppose, again unsurprisingly, there’s an emphasis on the qualities of the physical surfaces. The pots are richly coloured, layered, detailed and textured. I liked the creases dug into trousers on one of the Brexit vases. The more I looked the more I saw. The glossy ceramic texture contrasted with the Red Carpet work and the tapestry, and the rough unglazed sculptures. I wished that the plinths were slightly lower so that I could see into the necks of the pots. They really looked as if the detail continued inside and I wanted to see that. Much of the work extends beyond the 2d. The tapestries carry the same idea of layering as the ceramics, from lottery tickets to wallpaper fragments. I never tired of being able to walk around each pot and see all of it, never entirely sure if they had fronts and backs or were one continuous vista. There were the bikes – push and motor – equally glossy.

Another thing that struck me about the pots is that they have an inside-out-ness to them. We’re seeing Perry’s views on the UK, but rather than being inside a human container they are plastered around the outside, they are demanding that we touch and engage with them or display them in our homes and offices but of course we can’t, they are confined to a gallery setting or to the homes of those who can afford them. It does makes me wonder what, if anything, is on the inside. Does the layering and gloss continue? Is there a hollow core to Brexit? To the art market? It also made me return to the idea of a self portrait as a Mobius strip, which I plan to explore for A3. It’s the way that both the inside and the outside are visible on a continuum.

As Holly pointed out, “less is more” does not apply to Perry’s work. The meanings are literally layered atop one another, with text and graphic images guiding our thoughts. Colours are rich and abundant, as are cultural, historical, personal, artistic and literary references. Each work has multiple access points and layers of meaning.

My favourite Perry work was not here – but luckily a print of it is at the Victoria Art Gallery in Bath. It is the Map of Days – a self portrait of Grayson as a walled city, and somehow it is mesmerising. It was made as a linotype print and always makes me think about and question my own creative process.

I feel a bit like a shaken snowglobe after seeing this exhibition. It’s definitely one to take a bit of time and watch the pieces settle, and then see what emerges in my work over time.