Grayson Perry’s The Vanity of Small Differences exhibition isn’t a simple vanity, but a . . . necessary vanity.
The Vanity of Small Differences is a take on the 18th-century painter William Hogarth’s A Rake’s Progress (1733) through a series comprised of six tapestries woven by Flanders Tapestries in Belgium. This was a tapestry project in collaboration with Factum Arte who worked with the Turner Prize-winning artist Grayson Perry on all stages of production of the six tapestries which were woven from digital files on a Jacquard Loom in Belgium. Grayson’s drawings were translated into a computer programme that controlled the digital loom, and yarns were then dyed to match the colors in the drawings. Perry cleverly illustrates the dangers of life consumed by possessions and personal vanity. In the background of some of his tapestries, there are silhouettes of onlookers snapping images with their smartphones, beaming them across the world of social media. All in all, the visual complexity of the tapestries are a pleasure to explore and interpret.
The tapestries follow the life of Tim Rakewell a fictional character as he develops from infancy through various stages of his life, to his untimely death in a car accident. Through this progress, Perry analyses class mobility in Britain, gathers characters, places, and objects he encountered on his travels through Sunderland, Tunbridge Wells, and the Cotswolds for his documentary series All in the Best Possible Taste with Grayson Perry (Channel 4).
The Vanity of Small Differences is at the RHA in Dublin until March 19 2018.