Grayson Perry is one of the most well-known of British artists, perhaps because when his alter ego Claire accepted the Turner Prize award in 2003 the public spotlight was turned on him. His work, be it ceramics, tapestries or sculptures is highly detailed with social comments which stem from his working class background.
It is his honesty I admire and the manner in which he’s taken the pomposity out of the rarefied art world when he said ‘Art is just a load of b……s’. Not for him is an untitled collection of chewed gum dotted around a white cubed gallery but highly crafted artefacts with witty names which are thought-provoking.
I am looking at his work with regard to understanding how he is expressing his identity, his place in Britain and what that means to him.
The popularity of his work was confirmed to me when I went to the excellent but crowded exhibition Tomb of the Unknown Craftsman at the British Museum.
Eva Hesse is an artist I’ve referenced several times during the last three years.
She was born in Germany in 1936, the family emigrated to New York in 1939 but her turbulent life was short, dying at the age of 34 from a brain tumour. She enjoyed the process of making and appeared to have no fear of complying or conforming to what was expected of either the materials she used or the art scene around her; she was fortunate enough to be working in one of the most vibrant of these, New York in the 1960s.
The first piece I came across was Contingent 1969 when I was researching hangings. I admire the way her work is hung so the viewer can walk round it so it can be seen from many different angles but her use of latex is not something I have wished to use in my own work as it is too intrusive in the fabric.
Later, when looking at lighting, I came across her piece Right After 1969. It’s how the simplicity of the materials have been given dramatic presence through the use of lighting.
Ed Hallaham is another American artist whose work I admire because he doesn’t display his work in the conventional gallery or even the expected public spaces but in the great outdoors using natural materials in response to the landscape.
However some of his work has been shown in galleries and I’ve chosen 7 Sisters 2006 as an example. The hand knitted cotton fibre is encasing carved white pine but I would prefer to see this piece in a more sympathetic environment as I think it is too harsh a setting in the bare gallery.
Another sculpture I’m delighting in is The Veiling 2003, again for the use of wood and knitted yarn and the manner in which it’s displayed.
Hannah Lamb is a Yorkshire based artist who has worked outside. Her Art in the Wood caught my imagination as she incorporated several media and techniques I’ve used; cyanotype printing, text, textiles and, most importantly for me, she responded directly to her surroundings then allowed the results to decay in order to emphasis the ethereal nature of memory.