Turner Prize winner Grayson Perry’s tapestries come to Abbot Hall Art Gallery, Kendal, Cumbria. Julie Cope’s Grand Tour: The Story of a Life by Grayson Perry, a Crafts Council touring exhibition supported by Art Fund, will be on display from Friday 9 November 2018 until Saturday 16 February 2019.
Born in Chelmsford, Essex, in 1960, Perry is a chronicler of contemporary life, drawing us in with affecting sentiment and nostalgia as well as, at times, fear and anger. His work tackles subjects that are universally human: gender, social status, sexuality, religion.
More recently, Perry has reached new audiences through his TV programmes by exploring themes such as identity, including his latest series Grayson Perry: Rites of Passagecurrently airing on Channel 4.
Julie Cope’s Grand Tour: The Story of a Life by Grayson Perry will see his two giant tapestries on display at Abbot Hall. This will be the first time that works by the Turner Prize winning artist have been exhibited in Kendal. Crafts Council acquired the tapestries with Art Fund support (with a contribution from The Wolfson Foundation).
Julie Cope is a fictional character created by Perry – an Essex everywoman whose story he has told through the two tapestries and extended ballad presented in the exhibition. The tapestries are shown alongside a graphic installation, and specially commissioned audio recording The Ballad of Julie Cope, a 3000 word narrative written and read by Perry himself that illuminates Julie’s hopes and fears as she journeys through life.
The Essex House Tapestries: The Life of Julie Cope (2015) illustrate the key events in the heroine’s journey from her birth during the Canvey Island floods of 1953 to her untimely death in a tragic accident on a Colchester street. To write Julie’s biography, Perry looked to the English ballad and folktale tradition, narrating a life that conveys the beauty, vibrancy and contradictions of the ordinary individual.
Rich in cultural and architectural details, the tapestries contain a social history of Essex and modern Britain that everyone can relate to. These artworks represent, in Perry’s words, ‘the trials, tribulations, celebrations and mistakes of an average life’. Although tapestries were used historically in grand, domestic interiors, Perry contrasts the associations of status, wealth and heritage with current concerns about class, social aspiration and taste.
9 November 2018 – 16 February 2019
Abbot Hall Art Gallery, Kendal, Cumbria LA9 5AL