Vaughan Grylls (b. 1943) studied sculpture at Wolverhampton College of Art under Ron Dutton and at the Slade School in London under Reg Butler. His work often features an interplay between words and object, sometimes through his use of titles for his works and sometimes though his inclusion of words in the object itself. In the late 1960s he invented ‘punsculpture’, as in his A Case for Wittgenstein of 1969. He also makes works dealing with historic political events, such as the Site of the Assassination of President Kennedy (1980). Visual puns and historic political events are sometimes brought together, as, for example, in Signs of the Cross (2011). Autobiography has also been a recent influence, as can be seen in Mother (2009), Grandmother (2011) and his BAMS medal. Vaughan is currently working on Herman’s Sermons; his schoolteacher father, Herman Grylls, was a Church of England lay-reader, and as a child Vaughan was often a bicycle passenger on his father’s ministrations to various Nottinghamshire country churches. For more on Grylls and his work, go to www.vaughangrylls.com.
The artist writes: ‘The name Vaughan derives from the Welsh word bychan, meaning ‘small’. The Grylls family hails from Cornwall. Grylls is said to derive from the Old English word Gryllan, meaning ‘to gnash the teeth in rage’. Their ancient crest of a porcupine shows perhaps how prickly and unapproachable the Gryllses saw themselves. Thank goodness there are not many of them. I am not small or dangerous. Indeed, I am quite the opposite – normal size, approachable, humorous, modest, easy-going, generally wonderful, etc., etc. I trust this medal shows there are two sides to every story.’