Grayson Perry exhibition to be held at DMU

An exhibition of work by one of Britain’s greatest living artists and a showcase of some of the best lifestyle design in the past 40 years opens to the public this weekend.

Turner Prize winner and social commentator Grayson Perry presents Julie Cope’s Grand Tour: The Story of a Life in The Gallery at De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) from Saturday, 29 July to 2 September.


Her story is told in two giant tapestries, known as The Essex House Tapestries, and are shown alongside a graphic installation and specially-commissioned audio recording narrated by Perry.

At the same time the showcase Inside Out: An exhibition of furniture from the Crafts Council Collection will display 24 pieces which represent some of the best design from the past 40 years, created by significant makers.

Hugo Worthy, curator of The Gallery, said: “We are hugely excited to be showing work by Grayson Perry in Leicester. He is a giant figure in the British culture today, and The Gallery is very proud to be sharing both his tapestries and his poetry with our audiences in the city and beyond."  


The Gallery, which is Leicester’s largest arts space, has rapidly established itself as a key part of Leicester’s cultural life, giving more people the opportunity to encounter the work of world-class artists.

It is open to the public Monday to Saturday from 12pm to 5pm. It is based on the ground floor of the Vijay Patel Building in Mill Lane.

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About Julie Cope’s Grand Tour: The Story of a Life by Grayson Perry

Julie Cope is a fictional character created by Grayson Perry – an Essex everywoman whose story he has told through the two tapestries and extended ballad presented in the exhibition. 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. Rich in cultural and architectural details, the tapestries contain a social history of Essex and modern Britain that everyone can relate to.


The tapestries are shown alongside a graphic installation, and specially commissioned audio recording of 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.

These artworks represent, in Perry’s words, ‘the trials, tribulations, celebrations and mistakes of an average life’. Historically, large-scale tapestry provided insulation for grand domestic interiors; Perry has juxtaposed its associations of status, wealth and heritage with the current concerns of class, social aspiration and taste. To write Julie’s biography, he looked to the English ballad and folktale tradition, narrating a life that conveys the beauty, vibrancy and contradictions of the ordinary individual.

About Inside Out: An exhibition of furniture from the Crafts Council Collection

Inside Out: furniture from the Crafts Council Collection first launched as a partnership exhibition with Platform Gallery at Habitat before going on tour.

Inside Out features 24 pieces from the Crafts Council’s Collection representing significant makers from four decades of the Collection. The earliest piece is Chair by Alan Peters OBE made in 1978 and the most recent Sarah Kay’s Helga chair from 2007 with work by Richard La-Trobe Bateman, Floris van den Broeke, Tom Dixon, Tomoko Azumi and Wales & Wales representing furniture through the 80s, 90s and the 2000s. 

Furniture making traditionally considered function and ergonomics yet some of these pieces ignore such considerations including Fred Baier’s extraordinary display unit Megatron – Whatnot – Etagère (1985) made using then pioneering free-form bending and Michael Anastassiades’ playful Bedside Table (1996) made of industrial felt and able to muffle an alarm clock if more sleep is required.

The pieces cover a range of materials including recycled plastic bottles, corrugated cardboard, acrylic, ash, glass fibre, oak and metal with an equally diverse number of processes on display. 

The exhibition offers visitors a unique insight into these pieces and their makers through accompanying archival material, maquettes and drawings. In-gallery interpretation will allow visitors to: hear five oral histories with Tom Dixon, Fred Baier, Richard La Trobe-Bateman, Floris van den Broecke, Jim Partridge courtesy of the British Library’s National Life Stories Crafts Lives project: and watch a film of Tomoko Azumi (a Uniform commissioned by the Crafts Council) and excerpts from Jeremy Broun’s film Alan Peters – The Makers’ Maker.

Posted on Thursday 27th July 2017

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