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'No compromise' as Perry gets gong


Artist Grayson Perry holds his CBE presented to him by the Prince of Wales during an investiture ceremony at Buckingham Palace

Artist Grayson Perry holds his CBE presented to him by the Prince of Wales during an investiture ceremony at Buckingham Palace

Artist Grayson Perry holds his CBE presented to him by the Prince of Wales during an investiture ceremony at Buckingham Palace

Cross dressing artist Grayson Perry has been made a CBE by the Prince of Wales and wore his "Italian mother of the bride" outfit for the occasion.

The flamboyant transvestite potter, famed for his ceramic artwork depicting his darkest and most private feelings, said the award was recognition for "30 years of hard graft".

The Turner Prize-winning artist regularly appears dressed as his female alter-ego Claire and did not disappoint his fans when he travelled to Buckingham Palace for the investiture ceremony.

Perry wore a midnight blue dress and matching fitted jacket with a wide brimmed black-hat decorated with what looked like ostrich feathers.

Speaking after the ceremony he said: "Receiving this was great, it's not just for me it's for all the artists - no really it's just for me, for 30 years of hard graft."

Perry once described Claire as "a cross between Katie Boyle and Camilla Parker-Bowles" but when reminded of this he laughed and said: "This is my Italian mother of the bride outfit".

He added: "When I got the call (about the CBE) my first thought was what am I going to wear, it's a serious thing I'm not going to compromise my identity as Britain's pre-eminent transvestite. I googled to see what people wore and went for the sexier end.

"I always do like the older woman who makes an effort."

A Buckingham Palace spokeswoman said that Perry's "attire was entirely appropriate".

Perry is a married family man who spends hours meticulously making ceramic pots and is also a self-styled transvestite.

The vases, which are beautifully crafted and at a distance look like ornaments most people would love to own, are covered in words and sometimes graphic images depicting his own past or railing against society.

Born in 1960 in Chelmsford, he began his career at Braintree College of Further Education and then at Portsmouth Polytechnic, where he studied fine art.

Later when he moved to London in the early 1980s he began attending evening pottery classes and developed a strong connection with the medium.

He has said that he loves using clay because ''it is held in such low esteem in the art world''.

Perry won the Turner Prize in 2003 after being nominated for the piece Claire's Coming Out Dress and a collection of vases depicting the dark recesses of life.

The pots are covered with subject matter such as child abuse, autobiographical images of himself, Claire and his family, as well as examinations of cultural stereotypes.

He combines crudely-incised graffiti with drawing, slip painting, and the application of transfers, lustres and glazes to create an outer layer teeming with meaning.

Speaking at the palace, Perry said: "I'm grateful I'm not one of these people who has sky-rocketed to fame.

"Some people say I've become a member of the establishment but I've been that for years. I'm an RA (Royal Academician).

"The idea that rebellion is at the margins of society - that's false, it's far more interesting to be mischievous from the centre."

In recent years he has produced a set of six huge tapestries to accompany a Channel 4 series he presented on British taste.

Perry toured the country for the programmes and the first place he visited was Sunderland, producing two textile pieces based on places and characters he found in the city - The Adoration Of The Cage Fighters and The Agony In The Car Park.

The follow-up series will look at identity and will also see a range of artwork produced.

Former newsreader Julia Somerville was recognised during the investiture ceremony, receiving an OBE for her work supporting the arts after serving for 10 years as chairman of the Government Art Collection's advisory committee.

She began her career in broadcasting in 1972 when she joined the BBC and went on to present the Nine O'Clock News, before working for ITN for 14 years presenting all the main news programmes and later returned to the BBC.

Ms Somerville, whose role as advisory committee chairman came to an end last year, described art as "one of the passions" in her life.

Speaking about the artworks that grace the walls of government buildings she said: "It's a very comprehensive collection that's been going since the 1850s.

"It comprises everything from famous classical portraits like Lord Byron...to works by Grayson Perry who was here today."

The Perry work is a 7ft by 2ft etching called Print For A Politician, depicting a fantasy landscape in which groups of people are engaged in a giant battle.

One group is labelled "Wankers" in tidy, hand-written lettering about one quarter of an inch high. Other gatherings are described as "Fat people", "Male chauvinist pigs", "Fetishists'", "Northerners" and "Nazis".

Ms Somerville joked that risque works had to pass "the ambassador's wife test" and the etching did, as she said viewers would have to stand very close to the piece to see the offending word.

Nine-time women's world professional darts champion Catrina Gulliver was awarded an MBE for services to her sport and charitable fundraising.

The sportswoman began playing aged just two and went on to dominate the game for more than a decade winning her world titles from 2001 to 2011.

She said: "It's amazing, such an honour and I'm the only lady within darts that's received an honour like this.

"Prince Charles said to me 'are you planning to retire?' and I said 'no not yet'.

"He also said 'do you have to practice a lot?' and I said yes, and he said 'at home' and I said 'at the pub'."

She added: "You don't get something for nothing, you have to put the effort in like any other sport."

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