York Art Gallery

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 York Art Gallery will host a pair of vases by artist Grayson Perry on a generous long-term loan from the Thimblestitch and Bramble Collection. We are thrilled to be able to share these beautiful objects with our visitors. York Art Gallery is home to the Centre for Ceramic Art, which holds the largest collection of British Studio Ceramics in the UK. This is a wonderful opportunity to put Perry’s works in conversation with our rich collection of ceramics.

Entrance to the Forest was inspired by John Singer Sargent’s 1882 painting The Daughters of Edward Darley Boit, which is in the collection of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. The painting depicts the four Boit daughters scattered throughout a shadowy interior space which is dominated by two Japanese vases. The vases are larger than the girls, making the space in the painting seem strange, a bit like Alice in Wonderland.

Perry draws inspiration from this imaginative space and the provocative objects in it to make his own works, which are amongst the most monumental ceramics he has ever made. The title, Entrance to the Forest, suggests that the two vases form an entry or gateway to a dark place or mythical woodland. On the surface of the vases, the designs form a perverse chinoiserie that contrasts with the Japanese design of the original vases. Perry has described the vases as standing ‘like guardians to adulthood and sexuality.’ The images on the vases include used condoms and a disarmingly cheerful image of the artist himself in the guise of a bunch of carnations.

Dr Helen Walsh, Curator of Ceramics at York Art Gallery, said: ‘We are so excited to have these works join us at the Gallery. They fit perfectly with the narrative of ceramics told by our Centre for Ceramic Arts. We continue to celebrate the strength and diversity of the British ceramic tradition.’

York Art Gallery continues to prioritise innovation and diversity in our collecting efforts, with the goal of creating a collection that resonates with visitors from York and beyond. After the success of our popular 2021 exhibition Grayson Perry: The Pre-Therapy Years, we are confident that these works will strike a chord with our visitors as well.