Grayson Perry with his Turner-Prize-winning work Grayson Perry as his alter ego Claire at The Turner Prize 2003
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Had the art world gone mad? Was this simply the last straw for those who saw the Turner Prize as irrelevant, whose only aim was to court controversy and create headlines. I would suggest that this would be to miss the point - perhaps what was most surprising about that evening was not necessarily what Perry was wearing but that a potter had been awarded one of the most prestigious awards in contemporary art, fending off the likes of the Chapman Brothers. This was one of the most important points in the last ten years bringing to the fore craft and design into the field of fine art, allowing a generation of younger artists to see that craft was no longer 'taboo' and could take you to the highest levels in the art world.

GP361_The-Annunciation-of-the-Virgin-Deal_2012-FULL The Annunciation of the Virgin Deal, 2012 – a tapestry designed by Perry showing his amalgamation of craft and contemporaneous ideas.
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Working with traditional techniques and in mediums such as ceramics and tapestries, which for so long have been overlooked and seen as 'the lesser arts', he mixes classical forms with the most modern of subject matters. Grecian shaped ceramic urns are combined with complicated rich lustrous glazes and photo-transfer techniques, sgraffito drawings and handwritten texts that show provocative contemporary themes on aesthetically beautiful forms.

Screen Shot 2015-03-20 at 11.47.40 The Huhne Vase, 2014
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Grayson Perry vase The Huhne Vase, 2014, detail
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His titles such as 'Patterns of Violent Behaviour' (1985), 'Saint, Satin, Satan' (1999), 'Boring Cool People' (1999), 'Sex Object' (1995) and 'All Men Are Bastards' (2001) show how he does not shy away from awkward or controversial subject matters. 'The Huhne Vase' based on the disgraced former politician Chris Huhne is a prime example of this. Decorated with Huhne's face, his penis and his personalised number plate, which are identifiers of his fall from grace, Perry purposefully smashed the vase and repaired it using an ancient Chinese technique of gold mixed with lacquer. The artist commented on the piece "I wanted to include Chris Huhne [as] he represents what I call Default Man, a white, middle class, middle aged, heterosexual man, an identity group that hides in plain sight... This is a riposte to the common Default Man's defence that he is an 'individual'... I have smashed the pot and had it repaired with gold to symbolise that vulnerability might be an asset in relationships to such a person."

This odd 'disparity' between these classical forms and subject matter (which only comes into view on close inspection), is instrumental to his work, challenges perceptions and makes him one of the most important chroniclers of contemporary life today.

Grayson Perry Precious Boys 2004 Courtesy the artist and Victoria Miro © Grayson Perry_main Precious Boys, 2004. Going on display at Tate Contemporary in Margate 23 May – 13 September 2015.
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Over ten years on from winning the Turner Prize Grayson Perry gave the prestigious annual Reith lectures in 2013, his exhibition 'Grayson Perry: Who are you?' is just ending at the National Portrait Gallery, whilst another solo exhibition at Tate Contemporary in Margate is about to begin. On the open art market prices for his work in the art market are steadily rising and his ceramics regularly fetch £30,000 to £60,000, far outstretching most of his contemporaries. Unlike other artists involved with the Turner Prize, his star is still on the rise, and he has proved that craft and design can be relevant, commercial and an important tool for exploring modern society in an exciting and significant way.

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