Grayson Perry has never been one shy away if there’s any feather-ruffling to be done, and he has certainly ruffled a few with his new creation: a 68cm tall, glazed ceramic penis in homage to the City of London bankers.
Perry is currently exploring the notions of masculoinity on Channel 4 series Grayson Perry: All Man on Channel 4 and this piece was on temporary display at The Shard in London (just around the corner from the Bank of England) as he explored the City’s financial sector. The phallus (“There’s no disputing what it is,” Perry said. “It’s a big cock.”) features banknotes and photos of chancellor of the exchequer George Osborne’s face.
“I was thinking of an object that could hold its own amongst all the marble (of the City lobbies) but drew attention to the unquestioned maleness of its world,” Perry added.
“Men dominate the financial centre especially at the top so I wanted to make something that said it’s there all the time, it’s the centre of gravity that’s pulling us all in.”
Perry also created a second piece, Animal Spirit, a large-scale print of a cow/bear/beast engraved with words including “reasonable”, “serious”, and “objective”. This was made using Renaissance-era woodblock techniques.
“I’ve been interested in animal spirits as a euphemism for emotional over-exuberance in the market,” he said.
“I started of course with the two most common animals associated with the financial markets which are the bull and the bear… this is half bull, half bear but all male.
“The masculinity you see in the City is cloaked long ago under gentlemanliness and rationality and ‘good business practice’.
“The beast still lurks, but he’s very well-behaved.”
The government owns three of Perry’s works already – we wonder if they’ll be adding the phallic vase…