Grayson Perry's 'Animal Spirit' revealed at City of London art gallery

Sir Grayson Perry’s ‘Animal Spirit’, which was inspired by London’s financial sector, has been installed at the City of London Corporation’s Guildhall Art Gallery.

Generously donated by private donor and former director of Mondrian Capital Hamish Parker and facilitated by the Contemporary Art Society, the work will be available to view at the gallery from today (1 June).

The symbolic representation of the ‘irrational beast that controls the market’ shows the animal surrounded by symbols taken from the names of patterns in Japanese Candlestick graphs, supposedly invented by 16th-century Japanese rice traders to help them understand the fluctuations in their market, and which are still used today on City traders’ computer screens.

The large woodcut print of a half-bull and half-bear, which is the second artwork by the Turner Prize-winning ceramicist, writer, and broadcaster, to be displayed at the gallery has been added to its ‘The Big City’ exhibition. Created in 2016, it has not been on public display since Sir Grayson’s ‘The Most Popular Art Exhibition Ever!’ at the Serpentine Gallery.

Chairman of the City of London Corporation’s Culture, Heritage, and Libraries Committee, Munsur Ali, added:

“This striking print by Sir Grayson Perry is a welcome addition to ‘The Big City’ exhibition and the City Corporation’s permanent collection, and we are very grateful to Hamish Parker for this generous donation. 

“The City of London is one of the world’s leading financial centres, and it is important for us to address the issues relating to the 2008 crash and its considerable impact in our ‘The Big City’ exhibition, in which this artwork will be prominently displayed.

“This hugely popular show, which has been extended until the end of July, forms part of our flagship Destination City programme, which is creating a seven-day-a-week leisure destination for UK and international visitors, workers, and residents to enjoy.”

The work, which measures a substantial 1.94 x 2.42m joins other supersize paintings in the exhibition, including rarely seen works by Frank O. Salisbury, Terence Cuneo, and David Hepher.

The Big City: London painted on a grand scale celebrates the exceptional talent of 19 artists and showcases some of the largest paintings in Guildhall Art Gallery’s collection, including works that are not normally on public display. The exhibition is open on a ‘pay what you can’ basis, with guided tours available to book during the exhibition, and runs until Sunday 30 July 2023.


Notes to Editors:

 Grayson Perry, Animal Spirit, 2016
Woodcut printed on 315gsm Heritage White Sheet Size:
194 x 242.5 cm
76 1/4 x 95 1/2 in
© Grayson Perry
Courtesy the artist, Paragon | Contemporary Editions Ltd and Victoria Miro 

Press: Use of image – Terms & Conditions

  • Should you wish to use image on the cover, edit the provided file or seek permission for use of other images, separate approval must be sought from Victoria Miro in advance of reproduction
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About the City of London Corporation

The City of London Corporation, which owns and manages Guildhall Art Gallery, is the governing body of the Square Mile dedicated to a vibrant and thriving City, supporting a diverse and sustainable London within a globally-successful UK –

 About Guildhall Art Gallery

 The historic Guildhall Art Gallery originally opened in 1886 and is home to City of London’s magnificent art collection. Particularly rich in Victorian art and ranging from Pre-Raphaelites to depictions London’s colourful past, the Gallery’s basement houses the remains of London’s Roman Amphitheatre, dating from AD70. The Gallery also owns one of the largest oil paintings in Britain, John Singleton Copley’s Defeat of the Floating Batteries at Gibraltar (1783 – 1791), which is on permanent display.

About Destination City:

The City of London Corporation’s flagship Destination City programme sets out a vision for the Square Mile to become a world-leading leisure destination for UK and global visitors, workers, and residents to enjoy.

Find out more about the Destination City Programme here:

The Big City: London painted on a grand scale exhibition dates: 10 February - 30 July 2023

Guildhall Art Gallery

Guildhall Yard



Admission: ‘Pay what you can’. For tickets to the event, or to book a guided tour, please visit
Guildhall Art Gallery opening hours: Monday to Sunday 10:30am – 4:00pm (last admission: 3.45pm)