Gallery: Grayson Perry unveils A House for Essex to the world
As a small guest house overlooking the River Stour was unveiled to the world in Wrabness yesterday Turner Prize-winning artist Grayson Perry – who designed the building – finally revealed the story of Julie Cope, his fictional inspiration for the project.
Who would live in a house like this? Julie, that’s who.
A House for Essex, as the scheme is formally known, or Julie’s House, is the latest project from Living Architecture in collaboration with FAT Architecture and has taken since 2010 to reach fruition.
Conceived by architect Charles Holland and Perry, both from Essex, it sits at the end of Black Boy Lane and has stunning views across the Stour estuary with Felixstowe Port visible in one direction and the Royal Hospital School, Holbrook, in the other.
Julie’s life has been documented by Perry in an epic-style poem, and brought to life in two tapestries in the house.
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Born in Canvey Island during the 1953 floods she lives with her first husband in Basildon and drives a Ford Capris, before moving to South Woodham Ferrers and then on to Maldon after her divorce.
Julie then marries again, retrains as a social worker, but dies early after being hit by a curry house delivery driver – with her grave in the garden of the home.
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“I wanted to go beyond TOWIE, and so we have gone north,” Perry said.
These motifs appear throughout the house, from the tiles on the exterior to the vases inside the living space, with the moped hanging above the living space as a chandelier, and a recurring image of a Mother Earth goddess.
While the concept and furnishings are inspired by Julie the overall style and architecture of the house are modelled on churches and chapels, particularly those from the Russian Orthodox Church, and the general impression is of a light and airy home.
“Some of my most powerful artistic experiences come in cathedrals and temples,” said Perry.
The booking system went live yesterday, with prices beginning at £700 for a two-night stay, and a ballot will be held to begin with to allocate guests.
And what do the locals make of it all? Those involved say they have won them round, and Essex building firms were involved in much of the construction.
Perry perhaps summed it up best when he said: “I dressed up as Julie, with my Julie wig on, and went into Manningtree, and no-one batted an eyelid. I just looked like a woman out to buy something from the craft shop.”