Dramas, stories and details: Reactions to the Essex House Tapestries

The Gallery is currently home to the grandly woven story of Julie Cope, bringing the heart of The Essex House to the people of Winchester. Lively and spirited in colour, composition and detail, the chaotic kaleidoscopic visions of the tapestries pull you in with their mesmeric vastness and also ingratiate themselves with the viewer. Be it the Astra driven by Dave (Julie's notorious first husband) or the blue-striped plastic bag of a popular supermarket, we can all find something relatable in the tapestries. The power of Perry’s craft works on multiple levels bringing diverse layers of engagement. This article looks at some of the reactions drawn out by the tapestries. 


In The Gallery, you are up close and personal with Julie’s life. The complexities, idiosyncrasies and outcomes have been described as funny, uplifting and gut-wrenching by visitors. The whole gamut of human emotion has run through The Gallery. The narrative itself has the power to birth this. Julie and those she associates with often appear absurd and downright tragic, but there are enough glimmers of earnestness and happiness to provide a counterbalance.

Extra prints are shown alongside the Tapestries that further illustrate scenes from Julie’s life. 

Visual stimulation 

Beyond the emotion inherent in the work, the drawn and woven mise-en-scène of the tapestries, which provide so much context to the story, has sent people's minds spinning off in all directions. Firstly, a sense of wonder to an almost overwhelming level as the pieces have been described as both simultaneously imposingly synesthetic and rather stunning. But the outward appearance has also led to internal journeying through new lands as viewers have remarked that “you can travel in your mind with all the detail of his work”.

Exhibition shot featuring the tapestries. 

An expansive experience 

It is not just different locations that the work can send you to as periods in which you have and haven’t lived come to the fore. For example, those who take the time to utilise the iPads become newly acquainted with the 1953 Canvey Island floods. Additionally, visitors who have come from Essex or with Essex roots and have found themselves transported back in time or seen familiar sights cast in a new light.

Visitors can zoom in on specific details of the tapestries with the use of an app provided by the Crafts Council. 

In short, Perry’s tapestries are entertaining, and enlightening and fizzle with warmth and humour. The works provide something for all visitors to appreciate and connect with. Brought out of a less accessible but undeniably brilliant mega structure, The Essex House, they are a sight not to miss.   

The Essex House Tapestries are at The Arc, Winchester until 12 June.

Find out more and book tickets here.

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