Artist Grayson Perry will build a green and white house with gold roof in Wrabness, Essex. The home will tell the story of fictional woman called Julie. When I first read the story I thought that Drabness would welcome a burst of Disney-esque vulgarity to brighten up their distinctly beige name, but then I noticed my error. Wrabness was not amused. Some of its residents organized to stop the project. One objector complained to district council that the design was “pseudo-subversive neo-kitsch.” It is, of course, but what was his point?
Alas, their efforts came to naught and the Turner prize-winning artist secured planning permission to build a holiday home encrusted with sculptures, ceramics and tapestries fit for a drag queen. It will be completed this year. The two-bedroom house near Harwich will be available for the general public to rent from 2014 through a scheme set up by the philosopher Alain de Botton to introduce holiday makers to the joys of avant-garde housing.
Chelmsford-born Perry has worked with architectural firm Fashion Architecture Taste (FAT) on a building that is intended as a homage to his home county. It is Perry’s first foray into architecture. And it is FAT’s last project. In accompanying posts, CFile looks at FAT and the storied eccentric architectural practice’s (they prefer to call themselves a project) penchant for brick and tile.
The Guardian’s Robert Booth describes the house as:
“Resembling a cross between a wayside chapel and a fairytale gingerbread house, the home will be topped with a statue of Julie, relief tiles with her image will clad the walls, a weather vane will celebrate her mothering skills and a sculpture of her cat will sit above the door. Inside, renters will be able to pore over tapestries that tell the story of Julie’s life, while a chandelier ‘could relate to her tragic death. When it is finished, it will be very, very elaborate,’ Perry said on Tuesday. ‘It will be an opportunity to live in a shrine.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 fairytales.’
“Perry said he wanted to overturn the idea of Essex women as seen in the TV show The Only Way Is Essex and he has designed artworks to trace Julie’s Essex everywoman journey as she ‘encountered life’s ordinary triumphs and tragedies; a difficult childhood, young love, a truncated education, children, divorce and finally fulfillment in her career and love life.’ Perry said he imagined her as born in 1953 and dying this year, and as ‘one of the women who wear purple.’
“‘She’s in touch with her inner goddess,’ he said. ‘She’s probably read Fifty Shades of Grey, but didn’t like it.'”
His victory was not total. Rooftop sculptures had to be reduced in size by a quarter after conservationists complained they had “a significantly detrimental impact upon the character and appearance of the area of outstanding natural beauty.” De Botton said the collaboration between Perry and FAT had produced “a building that is intensely alive to history and location, but which takes art and architecture in entirely new and thought-provoking directions.”
Garth Clark is the Chief editor of CFile.
Above image: A rendering the house by FAT for Grayson Perry.
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