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Grayson Perry’s ‘A House for Essex’

Artist Grayson Perry’s A House for Essex recently opened its doors to our scrutiny. The collaborative project by Grayson Perry and Charles Holland of architecture studio FAT was commissioned as part of Alain de Botton’s Living Architecture series of holiday homes.


The “pleasurable, decorative and hilarious” creation, as described by the artist in a recent Channel 4 documentary, is a shrine to fictional character Julie Cope. It features specially commissioned work by Grayson Perry, including ceramic pots, wall-sized tapestries, decorative mosaic and timber floors.


If you fancy staying in the artist’s “temple to the Essex everywoman,” you’ll find it located in Wrabness, Essex. In fact, it’s pretty hard to miss.


Eye-catching exterior

The house, based on medieval stave churches, is clad with ornate green tiles and has a brass moulded roof, complete with statues. And although it’s not in keeping with the local architecture, the tone of materials used and its shape do have a certain synergy with its locality.


However, Perry says the design would have been even more off the wall if Charles Holland hadn’t intervened, “It would have been far too kitsch if I’d been left in charge. Originally it was much more Hobbity, like something from Game of Thrones, but FAT talked me down and brought a level of dignity to the project. It would have been much more of a collage otherwise.”


Eclectic interior

Inside you get a real feel for Grayson Perry’s intentions, “It’s directly inspired by my life and by the people I grew up amongst.”


According to the narrative, the house is a dedicated shrine to fictional character, Julie Cope and was built by her husband following her tragic accident involving a takeaway delivery moped.


The house is split into four segments and features many quirky design features, including internal balconies overlooking the living room and mirrored walk-in wardrobes with secret doors leading to a chapel-style space. Huge tapestries documenting Julie’s life, from birth, marriage and divorce to death, adorn the walls and a life-size ceramic effigy of Julie means she is ever present.


The house contains many curiosities, such as the Honda moped chandelier suspended from the ceiling, which symbolises her collision with the takeaway delivery driver. A skull mosaic on the floor, with the wording ‘Julie Cope 1953-2014’, that plays tribute to her 61 years and even a tombstone in the front garden which represents her final resting place.

Calm bathrooms

Although the house is bold, bright and eclectic, the bathrooms are surprisingly calm and tranquil. One features white tiled walls and floors with a subtle injection of colour in the yellow grouting that matches the colour of the hallway. The other is fully tiled in olive green and features a sunken bath with a picturesque view of the Essex countryside.


Grayson Perry’s A House for Essex is part of the Living Architecture series of holiday homes, so if you’re curious or seeking design inspiration, why not enter the ballot for a chance to stay here in June, July or August 2015? But you’ll have to be quick as the ballot closes at midnight on 26th May.


Alternatively you can catch up with Channel 4’s documentary here or take the 360 tour here.



[Images via]