This beautiful embroidery from 2005 is a limited edition of 250 from Grayson Perry’s Embroidery collection. The work presents itself as the page of a pamphlet or manuscript, bringing together the visual with the verbal. It shows an irreverent couple dressed in the guise of a Tudor comedy intent on dancing around a tree in an idyllic pastoral setting replete with vegetation and animals.
The undertone of the embroidery is sexually explicit, but this decadent and playful ambience, which is in tone with Perry’s characteristic taste for irreverence and jolly provocation, is soon explained by the poem accompanying the images. Initially reading as a commentary on the absence of God, the poem is an epicurean invitation to seek pleasure while on Earth, defiant of what shall come afterwards: “Impose thy will upon earth’s mess/ Else your life is meaningless/ No hell below no heaven upon / live life now and act with love”.
Perhaps one of Perry’s most provoking and unexpectedly explicit works, this embroidery reveals itself to be steeped with philosophical and historical references that endow it with multiple layers of meaning. As the title suggests, through this work Perry invites the viewer to contemplate life with lightness, serenity and humour, as its maker does.