Turner Prize glory for transvestite potter

A transvestite potter who decorates vases with images of sex and child abuse has won the Turner Prize.

A transvestite potter who decorates vases with images of sex and child abuse has won the Turner Prize.

Grayson Perry, 43, collected the £20,000 (€28,000) prize at a ceremony at Tate Britain in London, dressed as his alter ego Claire.

The artist, who is married with a daughter, wore a £2,500 (€3,500) embroidered frock specially commissioned for the event. It featured leaping rabbits with the words "Sissy" and "Claire" as well as pictures of frowning hearts and flowers, which he said depicted an inversion of a happy childhood.

Perry has said he was deeply affected as a child after his mother ran off with the milkman. Collecting the prize, a delighted Perry said: "It's about time a transvestite potter won the Turner Prize. I think the art world had more difficulty coming to terms with me being a potter than my choice of frocks.

"I think it's appropriate to quote Philip Larkin, but they won't let me because it's before the watershed," the artist said in reference to Channel 4's live coverage of the event. Two years ago Madonna upset some viewers when she shouted a four letter word before handing over the prize.

Perry said he expected to spend the prize money on his wife, motorbikes and his daughter Florence's school fees. Collecting the award, he said he thought he should thank some of the dealers and curators who had helped him over the years.

But he said: "I only want to thank one person, my wife Philippa - she's been my best editor, sponsor, supporter and mainly my lover. Thank you." Afterwards Perry said of his win: "I'm really shocked because I thought I was going to lose."

He said his wife, a psychotherapist, had read the body language of the other nominees and convinced him it would not be his year. "It was dramatic, I was shocked," he said. "The world's a scary place to the young little innocent plant like me," he joked.

The decision to grant Perry the award marks a rare Turner victory for traditional arts, as the winner puts his own spin on an ancient decorative form. Perry said: "I'm not a standard bearer for ceramics. People say 'Is the art world accepting ceramics?'. I say no, they're accepting Grayson Perry."

Sir Nicholas Serota, one of the judges, said: "I don't think the choice is a strategic choice, I think the jury felt strongly that these were the works of a very strong artist who happens to be using ceramics and drawing. I don't think this is the year of the pot."

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