Grayson Perry’s Controversial Shrine on Way to Completion
Will locals get used to the quirky holiday home?
Cross-dressing Turner Prize winner Grayson Perry is trying his hand at architecture. The structural work for his very first building, A House for Essex, has just been completed.
Located in the small village of Wrabness, near Mannigtree, in a spot of unspoiled English countryside, the house was designed in collaboration with London architecture practice FACT for Alain de Botton’s Living Architecture, an organization seeking to give holidaymakers the chance to rent out exceptional buildings.
It is conceived as an homage to a fictional Essex woman, Julie, who was supposedly born in 1953 and died in 2012. The artist told the Essex Chronicle that this figure was a reaction to the way the county’s women are portrayed, particularly in reality TV programs such as The Only Way is Essex.
“The idea behind the project relates to buildings put up as memorials to loved ones, to follies, to eccentric home-built structures, to shrines, lighthouses and fairy tales,” said Perry, who added he was inspired by “single mums in Dagenham, hairdressers in Colchester, and the landscape and history of Essex.”
The facade is now clad with more than 2,000 bespoke tiles, Dezeen reports, and copper alloy panels cover the roof, which also features a sculpture of Julie.
Work continues inside. A House for Essex is to be decorated with tapestries and mosaic floors designed by Perry, as well as by some of his signature pots. The building is expected to be complete later this year.
“It is a hybrid building, part house and part gallery,” FACT’s Charles Holland told Dezeen. “The exterior of the house responds to this contemporary romantic landscape, forming something that is both ancient and modern, archetypal and imbued with narrative.”
Although some local residents hope the area will benefit from the high-profile project, not everybody is thrilled by the whimsical design, which, Perry said, came from “doodling wildly and quite drunkenly in front of the TV.”
When the project was initially announced in 2012, The Independent reported that the local Parish Council chairman Harry Jones dubbed it “a blot in the landscape,” while neighbor Val Thomas deplored the fact that it looked like “something out of Cinderella.”
Perry has become something of a TV personality after his Bafta-winning series In the Best Possible Taste, which explored taste and class in Britain—and triggered the creation of six monumental tapestries, The Vanity of Small Differences. The completed House for Essex will be revealed in a Channel 4 show, Grayson’s Great Design, to be broadcast early next year.
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