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

Newenglish recently visited Grayson Perry’s : Julie Cope’s Grand Tour : the Story of a Life at The Gallery at Leicester’s De Montfort University. The exhibition is comprised of a biographic ballad and tapestries telling the beautifully ‘extraordinary, ordinary everywoman’, Julie Cope. Perry’s ballads are presented on large painted wood tablets in a pleasing to read subtly gothic yet modern feeling serif font.  The complex tapestries were drawn digitally using an interactive pen display, giving them a very illustrative feel, these vector drawings were then threaded and woven by Flanders Tapestries. It’s probably the digital origins of the two tapestries that gives them their incredible depth and layers of colour and detail. We were all fascinated by the use of iPads; which gave interactive versions of the tapestries allowing us to select specific people, places and scenes in each tapestry and have either that part of the narrative or textile explained on screen. This use of tech was a refreshing move away from the usual  dependance on the viewers artistic intellect to pick apart the piece they are looking at (yet another thing which has been ‘democratised’ by technology?).

It was lovely to visit something glorifying the lives most of us live – opposed to an extreme of success, hardship or political views. Although the Julie Cope’s story was undoubtedly tragic in its ending, we found it to be a pleasant reminder of how special all of our lives are (it’s nice to think that we’d all have the potential to become a good story!).

Looking forward we find ourselves excited by the prospect of using textile in a graphic context, inspired by the richness of colour and textures achievable in this media. In a graphic landscape seemingly landlocked by the adobe suite this offers an interesting new creative outlet for Newenglish’s graphic minds. We also loved the story told in Grayson Perry’s ballad, imprinting on us the power of narrative in visual arts. How could we incorporate this into a project?