Grayson Perry's The Vanity of Small Differences to open at The Exchange, Penzance

11 September 2020

As part of the Arts Council Collection National Partners Programme, Newlyn Art Gallery & The Exchange will show Grayson Perry: The Vanity of Small Differences from 3 Oct 2020 – 2 Jan 2021, before the exhibition tours into 2021. 

The Vanity of Small Differences is a series of six large-scale tapestries by the Turner-Prize winning artist Grayson Perry, and which are now in the Arts Council Collection.

Few artists have made a greater contribution to the general wellbeing of the nation during the Covid-19 pandemic than Grayson Perry, so we are delighted to present his epic series of tapestries at The Exchange this autumn,” said James Green, Gallery Director.

Inspired by William Hogarth’s A Rake’s Progress the tapestries, each measuring 2m x 4m, chart the ‘class journey’ made by young Tim Rakewell and include many of the characters, incidents and objects Perry encountered on journeys through Sunderland, Tunbridge Wells, and The Cotswolds for the television series All in the Best Possible Taste with Grayson Perry, first aired on Channel 4 in June 2012.

In the series Perry goes on ‘a safari amongst the taste tribes of Britain’, to gather inspiration for his artwork, literally weaving the characters he meets into a narrative, with an attention to the minutiae of contemporary taste every bit as acute as that in Hogarth’s 18th century paintings.

Perry's tapestries take an art form traditionally associated with grand houses - depicting classical myths, historical and religious scenes and epic battles - and play with the idea of using this ancient allegorical art to elevate the commonplace dramas of modern British life. Politics, consumerism, history and art history are bound up in the work, in both subject and medium. 

Beth Hughes, Curator at Arts Council Collection said: “We are delighted to be launching the next tour of this incredibly popular exhibition at The Exchange. Whether it is a can of Red Bull, an iPhone or a love of karaoke there is something we can all identify with and it is Perry’s acutely observed attention to detail that makes these works so magical. Rich in colour and content, I see something new in them every time they are out on display. My thanks to the team at The Exchange for their incredible hard work and positivity in bringing this project together.”

Click here for upcoming tour dates and venues.



The Arts Council Collection is the UK's most widely seen collection of modern and contemporary art.

With more than 8,000 works by over 2,000 artists, it can be seen in exhibitions and public displays across the country and beyond. This website offers unprecedented access to the Collection, and information about each work can be found on this site.