Sir Grayson Perry says his knighthood is special for not being about class

Sir Grayson Perry said his knighthood is “extra special” as him being named in the New Year’s Honours List is about his achievements, not class.

The 62-year-old artist, writer and broadcaster – known for his tapestries, ceramic works and cross-dressing – has been made a Knight Bachelor for services to the arts.

Essex-born Sir Grayson, who calls himself a “tranny potter”, often explores fashion, conformity and prejudice in his work and appears in public as his female alter-ego, Claire.

He told Channel 4 News: “I’m very flattered and honoured and coming from a kind of working-class background, it kind of feels like…I’m definitely on a winning streak.

“(The knighthood) feels extra special, because it’s about what I’ve achieved, I suppose, rather than any class position I hold.

“It’s not necessarily a smooth fit, but I quite like that.

“I think it’s very cool that they’ve given it to me because you know, I could be a liability.”

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Sir Grayson last night told his followers on Instagram, while posting a picture of himself wearing a medieval knight costume, that he was not “quite ready” for the news.

Born in 1960 in Chelmsford, Sir Grayson began his career at Braintree College of Further Education and then at Portsmouth Polytechnic, where he studied fine art.

Later when he moved to London in the early 1980s, he began attending evening pottery classes and developed a strong connection with the medium.

He has said previously that he loves using clay because “it is held in such low esteem in the art world”.

Sir Grayson won the Turner Prize in 2003 after being nominated for the piece Claire’s Coming Out Dress and a collection of vases depicting the dark recesses of life.

Investitures at Buckingham Palace
Artist Grayson Perry at his CBE investiture with the then Prince of Wales (Jonathan Brady/PA)

The pots are covered with subject matter such as child abuse, autobiographical images of himself, Claire and his family, as well as examinations of cultural stereotypes.

In 2012, Sir Grayson produced a set of six huge tapestries to accompany a Bafta-winning Channel 4 series called All In The Best Possible Taste With Grayson Perry, about British taste.

Perry toured the country for the programme and the first place he visited was Sunderland, producing two textile pieces based on places and characters he found in the city – The Adoration Of The Cage Fighters and The Agony In The Car Park.

In 2014, he became a CBE after an investiture by the then Prince of Wales, now King, and wore what he called his “Italian mother of the bride” outfit, a midnight blue dress with a wide-brimmed black hat, for the occasion where he was recognised for services to contemporary art.

In his 2016 Channel 4 programme Grayson Perry: All Man, the dress-wearing artist put himself in three ultra-male worlds to see what their masculinity explained about the changing lives and expectations of men in modern Britain.

South Bank Sky Arts Awards – London
Grayson Perry and wife Philippa launched hit TV series Grayson’s Art Club during the pandemic (Ian West/PA)

Other Channel 4 programmes include Why Men Wear Frocks, Grayson Perry’s Big American Road Trip, Rites of Passage, Divided Britain, and Who Are You?

His recent hit TV series Grayson’s Art Club was launched with his wife Philippa Perry, a trained artist but best known as a psychotherapist, columnist and author, in April 2020 during the pandemic.

The couple have made two series, which encouraged people to make and send in artwork and it soon had more than a million viewers each week.

In 2020, Perry won the prestigious Netherlands-based Erasmus Prize, awarded each year to an individual or institution who has made a major contribution to the arts, humanities or sciences, in Europe and beyond.

The artist was praised by judges for “demonstrating that art belongs to everybody and should not be an elitist affair” and was given what was then worth 150,000 Euros (£127,000).

The largest ever retrospective of Sir Grayson’s work will take place at the Royal Scottish Academy in Edinburgh from July 22 to November 12 2023.