Grayson Perry Designs Fairytale Cottage For Essex Countryside

Grayson Perry

The Turner Prize winning Artist Grayson Perry has announced a partnership with Living Architecture to create a unique new house in the north Essex countryside. The house, near Wrabness on the North Essex coast, is both an artwork in itself and the setting for a number of works by Grayson Perry exploring the special character and unique qualities of Essex.

The building has been designed to evoke a tradition of wayside and pilgrimage chapels. It is a singular building, appearing as a small, beautifully crafted object amongst the trees and fields. It belongs to a history of follies, whilst also being deeply of its own time. Visitors entering the house from the south will pass through a series of spaces that become increasingly formal, culminating in a double-height living room lined with decorative timber panelling and Grayson Perry’s richly coloured tapestries. Upstairs there are two bedrooms which will have views across the landscape to the east and west.

The stepping up of the volumes creates a series of interlocking spaces on the inside where each pushes into the other. The first floor bedrooms, for instance, will also have balconies that look into the living room space, and the bath offers an unusual location from which to observe visitors in the hallway. The interior of the house will contain a number of specially commissioned art works by Grayson Perry including beautiful tapestries, pots, decorative timberwork and mosaic floors, celebrat- ing the history and psyche of Essex.

Living Architecture is delighted that the planners at Tendring District Council approved the planning application, following strong local support for the project. Construction will start in 2013, and the house will be completed in 2014.

Grayson Perry was the winner of the 2003 Turner Prize. He uses the seductive qualities of ceramics and other art forms to make stealthy comments about societal injustices and hypocrisies, and to explore a variety of historical and contemporary themes. The beauty of his work is what draws us close. Covered with scraffito drawings, handwritten and stencilled texts, photographic transfers and rich glazes, Perry’s detailed pots are deeply alluring. Only when we are up close do we start to absorb narratives that might allude to dark subjects such as environmental disaster or child abuse, and even then the narrative flow can be hard to discern.

The disparity between form and content and the relationship between the pots and the images that decorate them is perhaps the most challenging incongruity of Perry’s work. Yet, beyond the initial shock of an apparently benign or conservative medium carrying challenging ideas, what keeps us drawn to the work is its variety.

Perry is a great chronicler of contemporary life, drawing us in with wit, affecting sentiment and nostalgia as well as fear and anger. Autobiographical references – to the artist’s childhood, his family and his transvestite alter ego Claire – can be read in tandem with debates about décor and decorum and the status of the artist versus that of the artisan, debates which Perry turns on their head.

Born in Chelmsford, Essex in 1960, Grayson Perry lives and works in London. He has had major solo exhibitions at The British Museum (2011), Musée d’Art Moderne Grand-Duc Jean, Luxembourg (2008), 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, Kanazawa, Japan (2007), Andy Warhol Museum, Pittsburgh (2006), Barbican Art Gallery, London (2002) and Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam (2002). Perry has also curated three exhibitions, most recently the critically acclaimed Tomb of the Unknown Craftsman at the British Museum, London (2011-2012) Unpopular Culture, de la Warr Pavilion (then touring) (2008) and The Charms of Lincolnshire, The Collection, Lincoln (2006). In 2012 Perry created a series of six new tapestries entitled The Vanity of Small Differences on display at Victoria Miro gallery. The making of these tapestries was chronicled in a 3-part documentary on Channel 4 exploring taste and class within the UK.


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