The exhibition’s central room is dominated by state-of-the-nation tapestry Battle of Britain (2017), a looming dystopian landscape, fronted by a figure on a BMX peering across a derelict playground, fields receding in front of him, a rainbow straddling the scene. The piece dwarfs the two Brexit pots nearby, which are underwhelming outside a documentary context.
The contradiction with Perry is his success as a public personality, and he knows it. His creative sensibility, his precision in skewering hypocrisy, his pathos for connecting with people through feeling as opposed to logic—something the “Leave” campaign here resolutely failed at—means his art is lost without television.
His broadcast work and his artistic creativity have fused, and the latter loses out by being less communicative. This may answer for the way in which Perry dodges difficult questions, and underplays the role he thinks his art can play.
“I’ve no great social ambitions for the artwork. It’s doing the same as all my other artwork, in that it’s a nice thing to look at and might make people think,” he says. “My thesis is that the Brexit schism is mainly emotional and cultural rather than factual and political, so art can deal with the ambiguity very well.”
The show’s final room leaves viewers with a sense of levity, by way of a custom-built ladies’ bicycle with a candy stripe, and a gilded skateboard emblazoned with an outline of the Duchess of Cambridge.