Dresses belonging to Grayson Perry will be displayed in Liverpool in the first exhibition of its kind in the UK.
Twelve of the artist’s garments, including the Bo Peep dress he wore when he won the 2003 Turner Prize, will be showcased in ‘Making Himself Claire: Grayson Perry’s Dresses’.
Taking place at the Walker Art Gallery from 4 November 2017 to 4 February 2018, the free exhibition will explore Perry’s interest in cross-dressing, which has been part of his life since childhood.
The Essex-born artist has said: “I think of my dressing up as the heraldry of my subconscious.”
Since 2004 he has primarily worn dresses designed by fashion students at London’s Central St Martin’s, who take part in an annual competition to create new designs.
Perry then judges their work, awards prizes and purchases up to 20 of their creations each year.
Perry’s transvestite alter ego is called Claire and he considers 5 November 1975 to be her birthday.
It was on that date when Perry was aged 15 that he first walked around his local village wearing a chiffon headscarf over an auburn wig, a brown polyester blouse and a dog-tooth checked skirt, black court shoes and a beige mac. The name Claire wasn’t adopted until later when he began to visit transvestite clubs.
Ahead of the exhibition Pauline Rushton, senior curator of decorative arts at National Museums Liverpool, says: “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.”