Map of Nowhere

Grayson Perry (1960 - )

Etching (five plates on one sheet)


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  • About the work
    Country: UK
    City: London
    Place: Government Art Collection
    Map of Nowhere by Grayson Perry is a highly detailed etching that attempts to map out key concepts and concerns in contemporary western life. A series of drawings illustrating these ideas are positioned around the representation of a body that is both Perry’s own body and a map of the globe. Inspired by medieval maps and mystical diagrams, Perry divides his body into zones. The lungs are specified as ‘The limits of reason’ and ‘The Here and Now’. Positioned around his head are various depictions of emotions such as ‘confidence’, ‘curiosity’, ‘ambition’ and the ‘work ethic’. Running along his arm, like veins, are the words ‘craftsmanship’, ‘experience’ and ‘skill’.   

    Perry’s world is not a happy place. Literally, he depicts his heart as heavy with despair and doubt. His cool, detached appraisal of social reality suggests an entrenched critique of the system that erects temples to Starbucks, Ikea and Microsoft and produces a sense of entitlement to institutions such as Oxbridge. Tiny drawings of false gods – estate agents, infantilism and the suicide bomber – all find a place in this extraordinarily comprehensive work. There is much mordant wit with, for example, a shantytown on stilts labelled ‘Free Market Economy’ and the odd random remark such as ‘stuff happens’. Perhaps in response to the idea that this could be seen as a self-referential, even neurotic project, Perry also directs us beyond the limits of his world – to a depiction of the ‘Nowhere’ in his title. 

    Perry works across a range of media, including drawing, embroidery and ceramics, bringing together the traditions of fine and decorative arts. He explores challenging, psychological themes such as child abuse, mental illness and masculine stereotyping.  He is best known for his ceramic works, classically shaped vases and objects inscribed with decorative figures, patterns and texts. Beguiling in their beauty, these ceramic works reveal darker and more complex aspects on close inspection, relating to Perry’s transvestite alter ego Claire, his family, or to wider political and social issues. Coming Out Dress was a richly embroidered dress that Perry made for Claire and wore for a performance in 2000, a moment when his private female persona merged with his artwork.
  • About the artist
    Grayson Perry was born in Chelmsford, Essex. He completed a foundation course at Braintree College of Further Education, followed by a BA in Fine Art at Portsmouth Polytechnic. In 2003 he won the Turner Prize and famously collected the award dressed as his alter-ego Claire. Perry works across a range of media but is best known for his ceramic works which explore challenging, psychological themes as broad-ranging as child abuse, mental illness and masculine stereotyping. Perry has had numerous solo and group exhibitions in the UK and abroad. Since winning the Turner Prize in 2003, which he famously collected dressed as Claire, he has arguably become one of Britain’s most widely known artists whose work and commentary on contemporary culture regularly features in the media. Dressed as Claire, Perry received a Royal Academy Award from the Queen in 2016, in recognition of his contribution to British art. Media projects include Grayson Perry’s Dream House (2015) and Grayson Perry: All Man (2016) for Channel 4 Television; and The Reith Lectures for BBC Radio 4 (2013). Solo shows include Hold Your Beliefs Lightly, in Maastricht, and Denmark (2016) and The Most Popular Art Exhibition Ever! Serpentine Galleries, London (2017).
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  • Details
    Map of Nowhere
    Etching (five plates on one sheet)
    height: 153.00 cm, width: 113.50 cm
    Purchased from The Paragon Press, April 2009
    verso, b: 47/68 / Grayson Perry
    The Paragon Press, London
    GAC number