The Essex Taj Mahal x


Grayson Perry

Grayson Perry

When was the last time you were touched by someone so brilliant they made your head start sub-dividing?


Stand back and welcome previous Turner Prize winner and national gem, Grayson Perry and his new project, a House for Essex: a collaboration with Charles Holland and the architecture studio FAT.  Built in Wrabness this huge marmite piece of art is a monumental shrine to a completely fictional character, a lady called Julie May Cope and is dedicated to the ‘Single mums of Dagenham, hairdressers in Colchester and the landscape and history of Essex’. The house holds testament to Perry’s visions of Julie’s life, through her birth in Canvey Island in 1953 to her two marriages, her children, her work all the way to her sudden death at the hands of a pizza delivery moped on Colchester High Street at the premature age of 61.


On the outside there’s a shining copper roof and 1924 glazed terracotta sigils of St jules.


Inside, the main room is in the style of a chapel to pay homage to the life of an ordinary woman.


There are biographical tapestries and pictures over the ceilings with snap shots of her history.


In pride of place and hanging as a chandelier is the very moped that killed her.


Upstairs, the two bedrooms are dedicated to her two marriages..the second of which was a story of true, tender love which permeates through the whole building and draws it together.


Kitsch, ebullient and eccentric it may be, but the joy of Perry is that in his work, as in his life, he describes the truth as he sees it.  Underneath the undeniable humour, there’s a deeper, thicker message running through.   This is a celebration of a modesty of aspiration and acquisitions that uses high art to pay homage to the notion of hard work and normality.  It’s one mans couture shrine to the silver linings and special moments that bless every single life, no matter how hard or down trodden.  Which ties up nicely with why it was commissioned in the first place: It’s part of philosopher and critic Alain de bottom’s (great name hashtag-childish-sense-of-humour) Living Architecture programme to allow members of the public – that’s you and me – to stay in buildings by world class contemporary designers. Click here for more details for your own personal taste of Julie’s life.

Imagine…a weekend away…here??

Laters, Kate x


    • Maison Bentley Style

      He’s can easily mistake him for a bit of kitsch whimsy..but there’s a huge brain ticking away. He did a brilliant series of Reith Lectures..worth checking out if you can find them (we get BBC iplayer..) xxx

  1. vintageattitude

    Grayson built me a house !!! The man is a joy and I can’t get enough of him. He really reachs deep in my soul. On a lighter note I am extra vigilant around pizza delivery vans now!!!! When are we going then Mrs??!! Xxx

    • Maison Bentley Style

      I know!!! There’s also a channel 4 documentary called ‘Dream House’ that’s really worth tracking favourite bit was Grayson taking 6 Essex julie’s (there I was hoping you’d be one..) on a trip down his fictional timeline, including a ride around an area with roads named after characters from Lord of the Rings..because her second ‘husband’ worked for the Council and was obsessed by Tolkien..oh what joy! Please stand back from anything related to pizza’s.. xxx

  2. KerryCan

    I don’t know this Julie May Cope character at all, so I’m sure I’m missing a lot of the points here, but the whole things looks so creative and fascinating!

    • Maison Bentley Style

      I think that was me getting carried away with the whole mastery of the place…I’ve changed the text a bit to make it now a bit clearer than mud! …Julie May Cope is a figment of Grayson’s imagination..the whole thing is a dream made real…though I suspect, given half the chance, the British public will take her to heart and start laying flowers at her grave on appropriate days!! I wouldn’t be surprised xxx

  3. Lia in Brussels

    Perry is so utterly bollocks yet, somehow, totally makes sense – in a very British sort of way. I love him (said the bollocks Anglophile) and, yes please, a long weekend away, here, anytime!