Greyson Perry’s

The Vanity of Small Differences

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Grayson Perry’s monumental tapestries exploring class mobility will be displayed at Salisbury Cathedral this summer

On 29 June The Vanity of Small Differences, an exhibition of six huge tapestries by the celebrated contemporary artist Grayson Perry, will open at Salisbury Cathedral.

Each of the 2m x 4m tapestries, inspired by William Hogarth’s The Rake’s Progress, charts a stage in the ‘class journey’ made by young Tim Rakewell (a wry reference to Tom Rakewell, Hogarth’s protagonist) and includes many of the characters, incidents and objects Grayson Perry encountered on journeys through Sunderland, Tunbridge Wells and The Cotswolds when filming a series for Channel 4.

Cleverly and unflinchingly, Perry exposes layers of unconscious tastes or biases in the scenes and individuals he portrays. References to classical art and religious painting also inform the work, bringing, in some cases, a reverence to an otherwise mundane scene or adding an extra layer of meaning.

The tapestries have toured extensively over the last few years, but this is the first time that they will have been seen in an ecclesiastical setting, which opens up a great opportunity for the Cathedral to create a dialogue around the subject matter.

No additional booking required, the exhibition is included in standard Cathedral entry. Please see the Visit Us section of the website for more information about visiting Salisbury Cathedral.

Book Entry Tickets

The Vanity of Small Differences is jointly owned by the Arts Council Collection, Southbank Centre, London and the British Council Collection. Gift of the artist and Victoria Miro Gallery, with the support of Channel 4 Television, the Art Fund and Sfumato Foundation with additional support from Alix Partners.

The UK tour of the tapestries is supported by the Art Fund and the Sfumato Foundation.

Frequently Asked Questions

Visiting the Exhibition

  • Is the exhibition free?

    The Vanity of Small Differences exhibition is included as part of the standard entry ticket to the Cathedral and Magna Carta.

    Online Advance Ticket Prices:
    Adult: £9
    Student (17+ with valid ID): £6
    Children (13 – 17 years): £5
    Children under 13: Free

    Local residents of SP1, SP2 and Laverstock postcodes are able to claim free tickets with valid proof of address. Members of the Friends of Salisbury Cathedral also visit for free. Your tickets are valid for a year after the date of purchase, enabling you to return for free (in the same group) for a year.

  • When is the exhibition open?

    The summer opening times for the Cathedral are:

    Monday – Saturday: 09:30 – 17:00 (with last entry at 16:00)
    Sunday: 12:30 – 16:00 (with last entry at 15:00)

    Please refer to the ‘Your Visit’ page of our website for full opening times and for details of specific closures due to events or services.

  • Is the exhibition accessible?

    The Cathedral is fully accessible for those using wheelchairs, we also have three wheelchairs that can be borrowed during your visit (please ask at the Welcome Desk).

    There will be a large print version of the exhibition leaflet.

    Assistance dogs are welcome in the Cathedral.

    We have disabled parking spaces in the Cathedral Close at a fixed price of £8 per day.

  • Can I take photos of the exhibition?

    Photography of the exhibition is permitted for personal, non-commercial use only. This means that photography for professional or commercial use is prohibited.

    The use of selfie sticks, flash photography, tripods and professional equipment is not permitted.

  • What else is there to do at the Cathedral?

    Salisbury Cathedral holds over 800 years of history, and is the home of the best preserved original 1215 Magna Carta document. Our volunteer guides are happy to lead you through this incredible building, as you explore the architecture and artwork both contemporary and ancient.

    On our Tower Tours, you can venture up the 332 steps to the base of Britain’s tallest spire and learn the secrets of the Cathedral within the hidden roof spaces. Learn more and book your tour from the ‘Tours and Demonstrations’ page.

    For those who aren’t fond of heights, you can gaze up at the spire from the rolling green lawns of the largest Cathedral Close, as you enjoy a picnic or food from the Bell Tower Tea Rooms or Refectory Restaurant.

    All are welcome to join us for one of our regular services. As a living church, we hold multiple services throughout the day, often accompanied by the Cathedral Choristers. Our service schedule can be found in the ‘Worship and Music’ section of the website.

The Exhibition

  • What is The Vanity of Small Differences?

    The Vanity of Small Differences is an art exhibition of six tapestries by renowned artist, Grayson Perry.

    These six tapestries were created alongside the Channel 4, Bafta-winning documentary series All in the Best Possible Taste with Grayson Perry (2012), in which Perry visited three very different regions of England, exploring the taste of the different social groups he encountered.

  • Who is Grayson Perry?

    Grayson Perry is an artist, writer, broadcaster and curator.

    Perry is a mixed media artist, working in ceramics, fabric, drawing and painting. His work is often autobiographical, reflecting his life and interests, and came to greater public attention when he won the Turner Prize in 2003.