Back in August 2018, Bath’s Holburne Museum launched a public appeal for early Grayson Perry artworks that were lost or forgotten. If you had a motorbike- or teddy bear-decorated ceramic lying around, the gallery said, they’d like to borrow it for a new exhibition.
Apparently the crowdsourcing worked, as many of the 70 works in a new exhibition at the museum are borrowed from “collectors, enthusiasts and friends” across the UK.
The exhibition will focus on Perry’s work from the 80s and early 90s, comprised of sketchbooks, films, and sculptures, and it’s difficult to imagine any other way the gallery could have gathered them together. Back when the “treasure hunt” for the artist’s earliest works was announced, he admitted that he’s not done the best job of keeping track of them himself.
“I recently moved house and found five pots in the loft which had been unseen since the 80s,” he said. “And a dozen plates from the early 90s in a cupboard under a sink!”
Other tales of bad bookkeeping included his wife, Philippa Perry, accidentally giving his artworks away to the charity shop (works he later signed and let the shop keep).
Looking back through the artworks after they were gathered, Grayson Perry saw them as a powerful reminder of his “pre-therapy years” according to a statement from the Holburne Museum. The phrase was incorporated into the name of the show, which will trace the artist’s development from 1982 through to the mid-90s, taking in themes familiar to fans: fetishism, gender, and political anger.
Grayson Perry: The Pre-Therapy Years will run at the Holburne Museum from January 24 to May 25, then travel to York and Norwich.