Cosmic Ceramic

Cosmic Ceramic

Grayson Perry Alien Baby Features In Modern & Contemporary Art Auction

A Sir Grayson Perry ceramic sculpture made in response to the stories he witnessed during his time making a documentary for Channel 4 comes for sale at Sworders in the spring. The gold-glazed Alien Baby was one of a series created to represent the ‘spirit of all the little lives bought into the earth by the nursing team’ at Broomfield Hospital, Essex. It is estimated to sell for £5,000-7,000 as part of our Modern & Contemporary art sale on April 25.

18 April 2023

This work was created by Turner prize winning ceramicist and artist as part of the BAFTA nominated series Rites of Passage. For the four-part show exploring the topics of Death, Marriage, Birth and Coming of Age, Perry travelled the world exploring rituals across different cultures before returning home to discuss his findings with British families.

For episode three (Birth) he visited the neonatal ward at Broomfield, where he witnessed ‘the slow-motion modern miracle’ that sees premature babies nurtured and thriving against all odds. He viewed the nurses as the crew of a spaceship, their modern technology reminiscent of the light up controls of a flight deck.

‘It feels otherworldly like we are on board a spaceship drifting through inner space on our way to the time when they [the babies] should have come’

Sir Grayson Perry CBE RA (b.1960)  £5,000 - £7,000

Sir Grayson Perry CBE RA (b.1960) £5,000 - £7,000

Inspired by this cosmic scene, Grayson produced a range of 12 ‘Alien Babies’, each a celebration of the NHS, the technology and, above all, the humanity of the neonatal nurses. The works, each unique and executed in pottery with a metallic gilt glaze, were gifted by the artist to every member of the neonatal team at the Broomfield, as well as to the couples featured in the show.

Two years ago, Sworders sold the Alien Baby given to Abbie and Laura, the Essex based couple whose story was a key part of the episode. 

The vendor of the piece (numbered 10 for the edition of 12) offered in April was the Ward Administrator at Broomfield. Perry had given it to her personally. It had been kept in a drawer and largely forgotten about until recently when she learned the artist had been knighted in the 2023 New Year’s Honours list. The vendor hopes to use the proceeds of the sale to fund a visit to see her son, who is working in South Korea, and further travels around East Asia. 

To view the full catalogue for our upcoming 25 April Modern & Contemporary Art Sale, please click here.


For further information please contact Amy Scanlon | 




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