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Grayson Perry at Abbot Hall

Grayson Perry Portrait, © Katie Hyams and Living Architecture

[T]urner 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 Passage currently airing on Channel 4.

Grayson Perry, Melanie, 2014. York Museums Trust (York Art Gallery) © York Museums Trust_Grayson Perry

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.

A Perfect Match, Grayson Perry, 2015. Courtesy the Artist, Paragon Press, and Victoria Miro, London. © Grayson Perry

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 where used historically in grand domestic interiors, Perry contrasts the associations of status, wealth and heritage with current concerns about class, social aspiration and taste.

More details:

The exhibition is preceded by a selection of Perry’s ceramics at Blackwell, The Arts & Crafts House.

Grayson Perry In-Focus Display (21 September 2018 to 6 January 2019) features three spotlight loans which will be displayed in the unique Arts & Crafts setting. Included are Melanie (2014) on loan from York Museums Trust (York Art Gallery), Mad Kid’s Bedroom Wall Pot (1996) on loan from the Crafts Council, and Christening Pot, on loan from a private collection.

More details:

Helen Watson, Lakeland Arts’ Director of Programming said: “We are thrilled to bring Grayson Perry to Abbot Hall Art Gallery. He is a Turner Prize winner, Royal Academician and one of the most exciting talents in contemporary art.

“We are also excited to show three of Perry’s ceramics at Blackwell. He established his career in the field of ceramics, taking classical pots and portraying human subjects on their surface. This It is a fantastic opportunity to see three pieces in the context of an Arts & Crafts home.”

Lakeland Arts is delighted that Rathbones is corporate sponsor of the exhibition Julie Cope’s Grand Tour: The Story of a Life by Grayson Perry.

Richard Dawson, director Rathbones Kendal said: “We’re pleased to support Lakeland Arts and help them bring this exciting exhibition to Abbott Hall. Bringing the work of internationally recognised artists like Grayson Perry to the county is hugely important for our arts and cultural scene and we are proud to invest in our community in this way.”

Grayson Perry activities:

In the run-up to Christmas (12 November to 21 December) Abbot Hall will stage: ‘A Very Perry Christmas’. Make wacky, colourful garlands and decorations inspired by the work of Perry to decorate our tree at Abbot Hall or take home. The activity is self-guided in the Art Studio and free with Gallery admission.

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