About Me

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Bristol , United Kingdom
I am co-director of the Leaping Word Poetry Consultancy, which provides advice for poets on writing, editing and publishing, as well as qualified counselling support for those exploring personal issues in their work - https://theleapingword.com. My fifth poetry collection, Learning Finity, is now available from Indigo Dreams or directly from me.

Friday, 8 December 2017

Grayson Perry - The Most Popular Art Exhibition Ever! - Arnolfini, Bristol

One of my favourite pieces of art ever is God Please Keep My Children Safe by Grayson Perry, which I saw at the Love exhibition at Bristol City Museum back in 2008. More than any other artwork I've encountered, it epitomises for me that obsessional and terrific  love with which your life is weighted the instant you feel your baby shift inside you. (I don't mean terrific in the sense of 'mahvellous, dahling'; I mean 'Causing You Terror'. Because in that instant you know that your life is utterly bound up, one way or another, with this new one for the rest of its duration.) 

Suffice to say, I've been really looking forward to seeing the most recent exhibition of Grayson Perry's work in Bristol - The Most Popular Art Exhibition Ever! - at the Arnolfini. If I were still writing my arts column for the local paper, I'd have been down there to see it a lot earlier in its run, but I'm not and I'm glad, too, since the note to one of the exhibits - Puff Piece - says that GP can't bear to read any of the reviews of his shows these days, as the good ones affect him just as much as the negative ones. (Not that he would have come across said local paper, of course, but even so.) 

Anyway, I'm just going to post photos to remind me of my favourite bits, and of the fun I had watching other visitors to the exhibition react to the pieces on display. 


Battle of Britain


Battle of Britain (detail)


Kenilworth AM1


Matching Pair 

the Remain pot 


the Leave pot 


Marriage Shrine




(The outside trying to break  in. This is through the gallery window, not an exhibit.)


Alan Measles and Claire Visit the Rust Belt

Jeremy Corbyn holding Claire's hand while Theresa May and Boris Johnson look on 


Trump kissing Alan's hand as Melania Trump and Nigel Farage look on


The Digmoor Tapestry


(More obtrusive outdoor scenery through the windows)


Red Carpet




Our Mother


Puff Piece (detail)


Luxury Brands for Social Justice




'rich people deserve equal rights too!' ... 'war and poverty are bad, I learnt that at university' ... 'super expensive knick-knacks against facism' ... 'all my ideas are recycled' ... 'liberal values sold here' ... 'this art makes me a better person' ... 'I've read all the academic research about empathy' ... 'remind me what it it we're protesting about' ... 'let them eat conceptual art' ... 'I'm off to buy a very serious piece of political art' ... 'poor places are so much more authentic' 



Animal Spirit and Object in Foreground

Death of a Working Hero (detail)


Shadow Boxing (detail)


Reclining Artist


Long Pig


What I like best about GP's work is its layered quality, which is most evident in the pottery and tapestries. There is always so much more going on beneath the surface, and the longer you look, the deeper you see. It's something I always try to do in my poems, and I left the exhibition more determined than ever to achieve that.

Grump of the Day was that the perspex boxes protecting the pottery and sculptures, whilst necessary, were horribly smeary and in need of a good clean. 

Final Joy of the Day was the discovery that having waited years for one to come along, a second Grayson Perry exhibition, featuring six tapestries inspired by Hogarth's The Rake's Progress, will open at Bristol City Museum on 31st March 2018. 

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