Turner Prize-winning artist and Queen’s CBE-recipient Grayson Perry created a self-portrait (in a sense) which was recently acquired by the Victoria Art Gallery in Bath. The portrait, A Map of Days, is quite large and detailed, so to see a full version of it click on the image below.
The portrait was installed at the gallery on Oct. 28. According to a gallery statement, the portrait depicts not the artist’s face, but rather the inner workings of his mind, occupied at times by his thoughts about modern life.
Perry said: “I’ve portrayed myself as a walled city. The wall, I suppose, in some ways represents my physical skin but at the same time it’s permeable. I absorb the influences and the ideas of the landscape I find myself in. I am as much my baggage as the person holding the baggage.”
The portrait was acquired with the help of the Art Fund, which has a thorough interview with Perry about the work. We suggest visiting them to read the full interview, which also touches on Grayson’s new television series with the BBC and his thoughts about contemporary art.
Map of Days isn’t a typical self-portrait. How did you first settle on the idea of doing a map?
Well, I’ve done several other maps. I like maps. So when I was planning the show at the National Portrait Gallery, as well as the portraits of the people that are in the TV series, I wanted to do a self-portrait as well. So I sought a metaphor. I wanted to make it more of a musing on the nature of identity and the self. I thought the walled city was a good metaphor – the wall, I suppose, can roughly be interpreted as your skin. But like any city, it’s dependent on the landscape it sits in as well.
That is the nature of the self – our identity only works in company. It’s co-created by other people as much as ourselves, so that was the idea behind it. And it’s a nice vehicle for jotting down things as they come into my head, practically. That’s how I work, on the whole – I don’t overly plan my pieces because I want them to have a random authenticity, I suppose.
Was Map of Days inspired by any other work?
If I was looking at any maps I suppose they would have been quite old: 15th or 16th-century maps of fortifications and things from Italy and places like that. I was in a town in Holland the other day and it was almost exactly that shape – these little tiny fortified towns in the Low Countries, they had that shape.
Bill Rodgers is a Contributing Editor for CFile.
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