England, earthenware, 1994
Bought with the assistance of Dennis and Charlotte Stevenson
On display in room 142
Turner Prize-winning artist Grayson Perry regularly examines the subjects of masculinity and transvestism within his artwork. He often appears in public dressed as his female alter-ego Claire and has spoken frankly his life as a transvestite.
In his autobiography Portrait of the Artist as a Young Girl, Grayson Perry describes discovering the existence of transvestitism at fifteen by stumbling across a newspaper article. It discussed transvestites and transsexuals and featured a photograph of the former Vogue model, actress and socialite April Ashley.
Born in Liverpool in 1935, April Ashley MBE was one of the first people in the world to undergo pioneering gender reassignment surgery. Her tireless campaigning for transgender equality has made her an icon and inspiration to many. Presenting her on this vase as a personal hero, Perry evokes the tradition of decorating domestic products to celebrate folk-heroes.
April Ashley’s life is currently the subject of an exhibition at the Museum of Liverpool entitled April Ashley, Portrait of a Lady.