Confronting class with Grayson Perry

Class. We're obsessed with it in the UK.

Whether it's our weekend trip to the bingo, the gastro pub or the country club, we take such pride in the rituals of our social tribe.

And it’s our fascination with class that artist Grayson Perry explores in his exhibition, The Vanity of Small Differences.

The Social Ladder

Inspired by the work of 18th century artist William Hogarth, Perry has designed six colourful tapestries which track the life of a character called Tim Rakewell. 

Born in a Sunderland council flat. Disowned by his family for dating a middle-class girl. Retired early on millions from his IT start-up. Lying dead amongst the wreckage of his Ferrari.

Rakewell's life is a journey up the social ladder and Perry uses it to make a point.


Decorating the ladder

Perry has woven into his tapestries hundreds of icons associated with social class.

A modified Honda Civic, a roasted vegetable salad, purple corduroy trousers – badges of honour claimed by different social classes.  

His point is clear: although we take pride in these differences, they’re much smaller than we’d dare to admit.

What's so different between the oil painting on the wall of the country house and the tattoo on the back of the cage fighter? They're both art - and cost thousands.

Dismantling the ladder

Perry’s right. 

We often try to create differences that aren't really there. Where we live. Who we listen to. What we wear.

But we all start life in the same boat. Living for ourselves, we were as good as dead (Ephesians 2:1-3).

And as Christians, God has raised us up to the same place alongside Jesus in heaven (Ephesians 2:6).

In light of such incredible news, the social ladder with its cultural barriers comes crashing down (Ephesians 2:14).