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Last Updated: Monday, 8 December, 2003, 00:52 GMT
Profile: Turner winner Grayson Perry
Perry (left) receiving the 20,000 cheque from pop artist Sir Peter Blake
Perry received the 20,000 cheque from pop artist Sir Peter Blake
Grayson Perry, a potter who has a female alter-ego called Claire, has won this year's Turner Prize.

In his purple party frock at Sunday's Turner ceremony, Grayson Perry seemed to revel in the fact that he was not the stereotypical cool, fashion-conscious modern artist.

Normally, critics of the prize argue that their young children could have taken the winner's place and made an award-winning artwork.

On Sunday, Perry looked willing to take them up on the offer, as long as he could swap places with the children too.

In much of Perry's work, there is a sense of a childhood that he lost and has forever struggled to regain.

Perry pokes fun at fashion in Boring Cool People
Perry pokes fun at fashion in Boring Cool People
They feature photographs of his family, images of masculine stereotypes he never lived up to and memories of rural decay.

Born in Chelmsford, Essex, in 1960, his parents split up when he was five and his stepfather, the milkman, was a bully.

So Perry's teddy, Alan Measles, became "my surrogate father".

Meanwhile, the seeds of his transvestitism were sown when he was six or seven, he has said, and his interest in pottery was aroused shortly after.

He was made to wear a tight rubber smock during his first pottery lesson - making an ashtray for his mother - and "became very excited at the feeling".

He studied art in Braintree and Portsmouth and moved to London in the early 1980s, falling in with a group called the Neo-Naturists.

They took part in performance and film works, but decided to go on an evening course to rekindle his interest in ceramics.

The first plate he made there was called Kinky Sex and depicted a crude crucifixion. The course of his career had been set.

Perry also displays some of his dresses
Perry also displays some of his dresses
He slowly began to make a name for himself and, by 1994, had become notorious enough that the pottery establishment was "baying for his blood", according to one report at the time.

Another theme of his work has been poking fun at "boring cool people" in the art world and the banality of society as a whole.

A vase called Posh Bastard's House ridiculed the concept of cool, while Poor In Spirit depicted people who had become rich but miserable.

He has said his work has always used a "guerrilla tactic" to marry a biting message with a normally sedate craft.


"I want to make something that lives with the eye as a beautiful piece of art, but on closer inspection, a polemic or an ideology will come out of it," he has said.

Since his nomination in May, he has become known outside art circles and the public have taken to him and his work.

He is a skilled craftsman - so many people admire him because he makes something that they could not.

But his messages also touch them with their satire, sadness, anger, humour and hurt.


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