In November, a new exhibition will open at Liverpool’s Walker Art Gallery. In Making Himself Claire: Grayson Perry’s Dresses, 12 of artist Grayson Perry’s sizeable collection of dresses will be on show to the public. Among them is the Bo Peep dress worn to receive the Turner Prize, 2003.
Grayson Perry’s transvestite alter ego is called Claire. She has been in Grayson’s life since he was a teenager. He considers Claire’s birth date to be 5 November 1975, when, age 15, he dressed in a wig and headscarf, blouse, check court shoes and a mac to walk around his village.
Since 2014 Grayson Perry has largely worn dresses designed by students at Central St Martins. In an annual competition students are invited to design dresses for Grayson, which he judges. “I encourage them to make the dresses as bizarre and exciting as they can,” he says. Grayson buys around 20 designs by students every year.
Pauline Rushton, senior curator of Decorative Arts at National Museums Liverpool, commented on Making Himself Claire: Grayson Perry’s Dresses: “Visitors who enjoyed Grayson Perry’s touring exhibition The Vanity of Small Differences at the Walker in 2014 will be familiar with the artist’s ability to explore complex social issues in a relatable, witty and engaging way.
“It is fascinating to see how themes of identity, social status, sexuality and religion are represented in a variety of symbols across Claire’s dresses, along with Perry’s own personal iconography. We’re sure that visitors will love seeing the dresses up-close and examining the detail represented.”
Making Himself Claire: Grayson Perry’s Dresses will run at Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool, from 4 November to 4 February 2018.