Grayson Perry’s A Vanity of Small Differences is a series of 6 tapestries illustrating the fictional character Tim Rakewell’s journey from working class to upper class, used to show the differences between taste amongst the working, middle and upper classes.
What’s most interesting about his collection is its referencing of historic art and in contrast, modern life. Figures from the modern day are placed in reference to biblical paintings. The series of tapestries is based of William Hogarth’s A Rakes Progress, which shows the story of Tom Rakewell’s journey through life. The traditional art form of tapestry is contrasted with the cartoony colourful style of Perry’s drawings.
The exhibition and it’s accompanying catalogue shows how Perry’s design process worked, from photos of his source of inspiration, to pages in his sketchbook to the final pieces. His drawing style changed the original images into a more caricature like image, then into a digital file and then how the machine weaving process further changed the images, adding fine texture and colour variation into his work. It’s a interesting insight into the design process and is especially relevant to my work. He’s interpreted the textiles in a certain way through his drawing style, but then the textiles manufacturing process has further manipulated his work. It is almost ironic considering I had only considered the artist’s interpretation and I hadn’t thought of how the textiles itself would affect how the fabric is portrayed.
January 14, 1841 – March 2, 1895
Since this project looks at the way that artists have looked at textiles in their work, she is particularly appropriate, due to her strong style and female figure painting. Other prominent Impressionist painters tend to paint landscapes, which is why her work is being looked at in relation to this project, which focuses on the artist’s interpretation of textiles.
She takes the style from the impressionist landscapes and applies them to figure, creating a soft, blurred view of the figures and their environment. The loose sketchy style of Impressionism was influenced by their use of “plein air”, painting outdoors straight from the scene they were painting. Hence, their work gives the impression of the scene as opposed to a photorealist portrayal. As is characteristic of Impressionism, she uses strong paint strokes, applying different colours to the piece without blending it together into a smooth gradient. It adds texture that is otherwise not in the real scene, and movement to the work. The paint strokes also add contouring to the image, giving the figures and fabric a better defined shape and a better sense of texture.
I’ve been painting and drawing from her work, mimicking her style in my own materials and experimenting on different papers. From her work, you can pick out individual colours, which can be made into a colour palette with ease. Ways I could take this visual research into fabric development it to take the textures and colours and reflect them in yarns, or creating folds and movement in the fabric while it is being knit.