Yesterday, I went to see the Grayson Perry exhibition at the Dovecot Studios in Edinburgh. I say that it was the Grayson Perry exhibition, but actually, it was Julie Cope’s Grand Tour.
Julie Cope is a fictional everywoman, and the House for Essex, built in Wrabness, Essex, is the house built by her fictional husband, to celebrate her life.
The exhibition begins with four massive tapestries, too big to be displayed completely vertically, which is rather a shame. However, if you plan to go and see it, I would suggest that you visit the room adjacent to the tapestries, to learn about why and how the house was built; the creation of the ceramic tiles (and the difficulties of keeping Julie’s nipples in place), and the colour swatches for the tapestries themselves.
In the top photo, you can see the mature Julie, with her husband, and you might miss her hair, seeing it as just grey, but look again at the detailed swatch above and all the colours are revealed. Perhaps this is a metaphor for how we see the elderly, the old, the grey in our population, from a distance. And yet look more closely and there is a riot of colour and experience and life, if we choose to pause and see what is in front of us.
The colour swatches are reminiscent of the sort of test grids done by watercolour artists to work out how many colours can be created from a minimal palette.
There are two videos, well worth a watch. At the end of one of them, a woman from the town where the house sits, says, “This is us” (or something like that) and wipes away a tear.
I can see why she said it. Julie Cope is everywoman; she really is.