In pictures: See Grayson Perry’s irreverent tapestries, which tap into British class anxiety, on display in Salisbury Cathedral

Six colorful and richly detailed tapestries by British artist Grayson Perry have been installed in the nave of Salisbury Cathedral in western England. The band, titled ‘The Vanity of Small Differences’, has toured the country before, but this is the first time it’s been staged in a church.

The works, each measuring four meters by two meters, are inspired by the series of narrative paintings by William Hogarth, in particular The progress of the rake (1734) which follows the rise and fall of debauched Tom Rakewell. The 18th-century artist typically used these paintings to make biting social commentary on pretension and class.

Here, Perry’s protagonist, Tim Rakewell, explores upward mobility in the present day, using a cast of characters based on people the artist met while traveling to various parts of the UK for a television program .

“Rich in color and content, it’s Perry’s attention to detail that draws you in,” said curator Beth Hughes. “I’m sure we all have moments of familiarity looking through this chart of English life and seeing this mug we have at home and wondering what social class I belong to?”

References to classical and religious art can be found in the paintings, including to Giovanni Bellini agony in the garden and that of Andrea Mantegna The Worship of the Cage Fighters.

“The Vanity of Small Differences” runs until September 25, 2022. See installation images below.

Installation view of Grayson Perry’s ‘The Vanity of Small Differences’ series of tapestries in Salisbury Cathedral. Photo: Finnbarr Webster.

Installation view of Grayson Perry’s ‘The Vanity of Small Differences’ series of tapestries in Salisbury Cathedral. Photo: Finnbarr Webster. Courtesy of Salisbury Cathedral.

Installation view of Grayson Perry’s ‘The Vanity of Small Differences’ series of tapestries in Salisbury Cathedral. Photo: Finnbarr Webster.

Installation view of Grayson Perry’s ‘The Vanity of Small Differences’ series of tapestries in Salisbury Cathedral. Photo: Finnbarr Webster. Courtesy of Salisbury Cathedral.

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