A Life in Four Tapestries

Until November, Dovecot Studios, Edinburgh presents the work of celebrated Turner Prize winner, and self-styled ‘unapologetic fetishist’, Grayson Perry. Julie Cope’s Grand Tour is Perry's first solo exhibition in Scotland and will feature the complete set of tapestries, originally designed by the artist for A House for Essex, giving Scottish audiences a chance to discover this extraordinary body of work.

The exhibition will explore the creation of A House for Essex, which was designed by Perry with FAT Architecture for Living Architecture as a secular chapel dedicated to Julie Cope, a fictional every-woman. The story of Julie Cope is told through four large-scale tapestries and an audio ballad spoken by Perry, which narrates key events in the protagonist’s journey from her birth during the Canvey Island floods of 1953, to her sudden death in a tragic accident.

Perry is known for tackling subjects that are universally human, exploring identity, gender, social status, sexuality, and religion. By delving into the narrative of fictional Julie Cope, the artist explores in his own words, ‘the trials, tribulations, celebrations and mistakes of an average life’. 

The exhibition juxtaposes large-scale tapestry and its associations of status, wealth and heritage with current concerns of class, taste, and social aspiration. Using innovative digital processes of craft making, the imposing Julie Cope tapestries were machine-woven in collaboration with two international production studios. Designed by Perry using an interactive pen display, the compositions were then translated into coded instructions for a digital loom by Factum Arte, Madrid, and threaded and woven by Flanders Tapestries, Belgium. 

Set in the context of Edinburgh's historic Dovecot Studios, the exhibition offers the opportunity to explore both handwoven and machine-woven tapestries as well as the different crafts, skills, and techniques used to produce these extraordinary works of art. 

Images: Grayson Perry, A Perfect Match, 2015 © Grayson Perry. Courtesy the artist, Paragon Press and Victoria Miro, London/Venice. A House For Essex, Courtesy of Living Architecture. In Its Familiarity, Golden, Grayson Perry, 2015.  © Grayson Perry. Courtesy the Artist, Paragon Press, and Victoria Miro, London. 
Guest Post by Philippa Kelly.

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