Monday, 24 July 2017

The Ballad of Julie Cope - The First Tapestry

Grayson Perry enjoys an international reputation for his colourful and unusual pots, but is now gaining a name for his fantastical tapestries. His latest two tapestries present his own fictional story about an everyday Essex girl called Julie Cope. The tapestries represent the trials, tribulations, celebrations and mistakes of an average life lived. Historically, large-scale tapestries provided insulation for grand domestic interiors; Perry has juxtaposed its associations of status, wealth and heritage with the current concerns of class, social aspirations and taste.
 Baby Julie arrived into the world on the 1st February during a great flood on Canvey Island in 1953 - she was the second born daughter of June and Norman Cope.
 Her father used a broken chair leg to breach the roof of their home so that he could hold newborn Julie aloft and save her from the ever rising flood.
Ho! Ho! Ho! here comes the local policeman to the rescue
All safe - mother, father, eldest daughter, and baby Julie escape the rising waters just in time 
Perry created this rich visual story on a computer. He then worked closely with a digital mediator and tapestry weavers to translate the vivid 1970s colour palette of his original digital drawings into a woven textile. Like an impressionist painter, he maintains the vibrancy of the palette through a combination of woven colours that are blended by the viewer's eye. 
Julie is now a teenager - 16 years of age. She lives in the new town of Basildon in a 1960s concrete tower block where rather strangely the street names are taken from Tolkien's 'Two Towers'. She has met and fallen madly in love with Dave. On her green t-shirt is the logo of Dr. Feelgood, a punk band from Canvey Island where she was born. 
Julie has married her teenage sweetheart Dave, and everyone agrees that they are the perfect match - but are they? This family portrait shows ominous signs as Julie and Dave look away from one another. 
Julie and Dave now have two children - a boy called Daniel, and a girl called Elaine
Julie named her first born child, Daniel, after a 1973 hit single by singer Elton John - her choice, not Daves - Elton John's music was not his taste.   
'I'm so sorry, D x' 
 Julie's bouquet bears an apolgetic note from her unfaithful husband Dave which points to the future breakdown of their marriage forever.
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Next time, the second tapestry shows the story of what happened to Julie and her children in their new life without Dave     

36 comments:

  1. Amazing tapestry and story! Love the explanation you gave, it reads like a book. So original to create this.

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    1. Glad that you enjoyed seeing the first tapestry

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  2. What wonderful colours and a highly original work in tapestry. Perry is new to me, but I enjoy his contemporary style and the Everyday Girl story, a change from fantasy and royal subjects. I look forward to the next instalment, and thank you for showing it Rosemary.

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    1. The tapestry is very much about 'class' in the UK Patricia - Perry tackles subjects within his art that are relevant to us today.

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  3. Very interesting stuff Grayson Perry does. When I first looked at the photos of the tapestry it loked colourful but I wasn't sure what to make of it - but now, after reading your explanations, I would like to see it very much. I saw his collection of tapestries on social class - have you seen those? I look forward to seeing what happens to Julie.

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    1. I haven't seen the social class tapestries Jenny, but I have read about them and seen them illustrated.
      I like the way that Perry tackles issues that confront us today within his art.
      Did you know that at the moment he is making two enormous vases about Brexit - one will show the tribe of 'leavers' and the other will show the tribe of 'remainers'.

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  4. What a fascinating concept! Any of our lives would look spectacular done up in tapestry style!

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    1. The ordinary can be extraordinary

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  5. This is incredible, can't wait for your next post. What an amazing piece of art.

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    1. I was very taken with both tapestries, and pleased that I went to see them. They are very large rather like the medieval ones seen on the walls of stately homes.

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    1. All of the details are intriguing.

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  7. Hello Rosemary, At first glance, I would have sworn these were from the 1970's. I looked at some of his ceramics on the web and even on these vases, typically more renowned for shape, surface and glaze, Perry uses an abundance of detail to tell his story.
    --Jim

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    1. Hello Jim - Perry used the 60/70s style to reflect that particular period of Julie's life - as I mentioned above he is in the process of making two very large vases representing the turmoil that is Brexit. One vase will represent the tribe who are for leaving and the other will respresent the tribe of remainers.

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  8. What a fantastical idea. I'm always in awe of such creative minds who take the random thoughts we all have and develop them into projects such as this. Wonderful colour and detail. And a true-to-life tale.

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    1. I love the fact that he brings a modern interpretation in his art to twentyfirst century issues both politically, socially.

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  9. Very original and exciting - a modern masterpiece.

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    1. I really enjoyed seeing the tapestries, and I am pleased that you liked seeing this first one too Elaine.

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  10. Hi Rosemary,

    I really enjoyed reading your post and seeing the wonderful tapestries. The bright colours and all the detail are amazing. I really could relate to the 70's and Elton John's, Daniel.
    Thanks for sharing and I look forward to the second tapestry.
    Enjoy your week
    hugs
    Carolyn

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    1. Hello Carolyn - Yes, I relate to that period too - glad you enjoyed seeing the tapestry.

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  11. I hadn't seen these tapestries before so thanks for the introduction. I enjoyed reading Perry's autobiography of his early years - I hope he plans further editions.

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    1. As I have already mentioned, Perry is now making to huge vases representing Brexit - one showing the 'tribe of remainers' the other showing the 'tribe of leavers'. I look forward to seeing them.

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    1. It is a pity that the exhibition is now over or I could have taken you to see them for yourself.

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  13. Dear Rosemary, This beautiful and colorful tapestry reminds me of stained glass windows. Both tell a story without words.

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    1. Dear Gina - I had not thought of that, but you are right.

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  14. When I first became aware of Grayson Perry during his motorcycle tour with his teddy bear I didn't know what to make of him as it was just him on a bike and that was the artwork but since then I've seen more of his art and comments on society and have been very impressed. Unlike a lot of modern artists where you have to guess what it is your looking at and 2o minutes later you are none the wiser and couldn't care less what the answer is anyway his art is vibrant, instant but also complex and deep. People get it and can see the craft that's gone into it, despite liking it or not rather than just abstract squiggles and lines that's meant to mean something. Some of his statements are very perceptive as well... as in why people 'like or dislike' anything and the complex nature,religious and cultural attitudes, and lifetime of experience behind a simple one word response.

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    1. I also found it difficult in the beginning to understand just what he was all about, but now find his work to be extremely relevant and pertinent to the world we all face today. I like the way he confronts difficult issues within his art and does so in such a unique and accessible way.

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  15. It is lovely to see a modern tapestry, I wonder what future generations will think about it. Sarah x

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    1. The tapestry certainly relates to a particular period of our modern history with reference to style, attitudes, architecture, and colour - I would have thought they would find it of great interest.

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  16. Interesting post! Just great...
    Love from Titti

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    1. It is a fun tapestry and relevant to the life we live today.

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  17. Dearest Rosemary,
    Wow, that is quite an amazing and very artistic way of creating a modern day tapestry with a captivating story to tell!
    Looking forward to the sequel...
    Hugs,
    Mariette

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    1. Dear Mariette - hope very much that you enjoy the second tapestry too

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