Grayson Perry’s Dream House

Nominated – Specialist Factual BAFTA, 2016 Television Awards  
Nominated – Best Arts, Royal Television Society Programme Awards                              
Nominated – Best Presenter, Royal Television Society Programme Awards

“It’s like Grand Designs on acid.” The Times

“Fascinating television. Be amazed.” The Observer

“Grayson Perry’s Dream House was a very lovely thing…completely charming.” The Independent

Grayson Perry’s Dream House charts the creation of Grayson’s riskiest and most personal public artwork of his career: a loving tribute and celebration of his homeland of Essex inspired by his life and the people he grew up amongst. This is his tribute to Essex Women in all their glory and a powerful challenge to the reductive myth of the ‘Essex Girl.’

It is also Grayson’s biggest project to date, a creative collaboration with Charles Holland of FAT Architecture, that also involves a team of engineers, builders and crafts people. It’s taken three years to build and has involved hundreds of man-hours.

The house was commissioned by Living Architecture, an organisation which aims to promote contemporary art and design by creating modern houses for holiday rental.

On the site of a derelict farm house, Grayson’s long-held dream begins to take shape. It’s a dream to create a magical building that gives two fingers to the puritanical modernist architectural establishment, but also tells a story of the Essex everywoman. Grayson’s muse is a mythical woman of his own invention called Julie Cope. Born in Canvey Island in 1953, Julie died aged 61 in a freak accident with a curry delivery scooter on Colchester High Street. Grayson’s House tells the story of her life. And the more Grayson gets absorbed in Julie’s life, the more he is forced to consider his own.

The design for the house is a visual one-off and a remarkable collaboration between art and architecture. It’s been handcrafted down to the finest detail in a rich, dense and extravagant style. Grayson himself has to design relief tiles depicting Julie, ornate roof sculptures, and four large tapestries celebrating her life. But translating a dream into a functioning building is not easy and Grayson’s first visit to the site brings home the challenge, pressure and scale of this project. The tiles alone, 1925 in total, have cost several thousand pounds so the slightest mistake on Grayson’s part could prove to be a disaster. As Grayson says: ‘I’ve never done anything where a moment of creativity has had such repercussions.’

In the finale of the programme, Grayson takes a group of real-life Essex women – all called Julie – to visit the house that he has built in their honour. Touring the key places in Julie’s life, the Essex women grill Grayson, asking why he wanted to do this project and ask the pertinent question: ‘Does Julie represent your mother?’

The story of Julie is in many ways Grayson’s own story. ‘This is about ordinary lives and being aware of what matters, celebrating our relationships and our connections with people…who we come home to watch telly in the evening…who we love. This is a temple to that.’

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Watch the trailer here:


1×1 Hour for Channel 4

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