Grayson Perry exhibition heads to Galashiels

An exhibition by globally-renowned contemporary artist Grayson Perry will be displayed in the Great Tapestry of Scotland visitor centre’s Gallery 1420 in Galashiels from next Friday (March 18) until August 14.

By Kevin Janiak
Thursday, 10th March 2022, 11:24 am

The Essex House Tapestries: Life of Julie Cope, provided by The Crafts Council Collection, continues the centre’s raison d'etre of storytelling through the medium of tapestry and textiles.

The Great Tapestry tells the history of Scotland through the ages, while Perry’s work depicts the life story of a fictional character called Julie Cope.

Perry describes the artworks as depicting “the trials, tribulations, celebrations and mistakes of an average life”.

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The two tapestry panels follow key moments in Julie’s life from her birth to her untimely death following a motorbike accident.

Sandy Maxwell-Forbes, the visitor centre’s director for cultural charity Live Borders, said: “We’re absolutely delighted to host Grayson Perry’s Essex House Tapestries, particularly during the Year of Stories.

"Just like The Great Tapestry of Scotland, these rich and vibrant works of art tell an incredibly moving everyday life story of joy and heartbreak. Visitors to the exhibit will experience almost every emotion as they take an amazing sensory journey for the eyes and ears.”

“Grayson’s Tapestries particularly exemplify his love and understanding of the versatility of textiles as a creative medium, so it is fantastic that our stunning new purpose-built building has allowed us to bring them to Galashiels, the heartland of one of UK’s premier textile regions in the Borders.”

One of the artworks in Grayson Perry’s Essex House Tapestries, coming to Galashiels next week.

The exhibit will also feature the Turner Prize winning artist’s own audio narration of Julie’s story.

The Essex House Tapestries: Life of Julie Cope is part of The Crafts Council Collection – the first public collection in the world to acquire any work from this series. It was acquired with assistance from the Wolfson Foundation.

Speaking of the acquisition, Sumitra Upham, head of public programmes at Crafts Council said: “We acquired the two tapestries in 2016 as we were struck by Perry’s creation of Julie Cope, a fictional Essex woman and her life’s trials and tribulations. Rich in cultural and architectural details, the tapestries reflect a social history of Essex and issues of class and wealth distinct to modern Britain.”

Sandy Maxwell-Forbes added: “As can be seen through both The Great Tapestry of Scotland and Grayson’s artwork, tapestry is a fantastic story telling medium, as it provides the opportunity to create so many different textures through expert selection of patterns and tensions – from a crumpled crisp packet to the movement of flowing water.”

Another of the artworks in Grayson Perry’s Essex House Tapestries, coming to Galashiels next week.

Similar to The Great Tapestry of Scotland artist Andrew Crummy, in order to produce the Tapestries, Perry worked closely with tapestry weavers to translate the vivid 1970s colour palette of his original digital drawings into a woven textile.

A description on the Crafts Council website says: “Like an Impressionist painter, through his Essex House Tapestries Grayson Perry maintains the vibrancy of the palette through a combination of woven colours that are blended by the viewer’s eye.”

Standard admission to the exhibit will be £5.

In addition to two galleries, the centre is home to a cafe and workshops that allow participants to meet and learn from makers in one of the UK’s premier textile regions.

The visitor centre is currently open to the public from Thursday to Monday, 9.30am to 5pm and The Stitchers Cafe is open Thursday to Monday 10am to 4pm. From April 4, the centre will be open seven days a week. Ticket prices to view the Great Tapestry of Scotland vary.

To book, or for more information, visit or follow @GreatTapestrySc on Facebook or Twitter, and @GreatTapestryScotland on Instagram.​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​