In Essex, England, fairytales seem to have taken a turn for the strange. Artist Grayson Perry just received permission to build a storybook cottage as an elaborate homage to a woman he made up. The vacation home, slated to be ready-to-rent in 2014, is not inspired by a particular fairytale; rather, it's an elaborate attempt to make a fairytale out of the life story of an ordinary Essex woman named Julie. According to the Guardian, a sculpture of Julie will top one of the gables, her likeness will tile the walls, and a sculpture of her cat will linger above the door. Even the weathervane is a tribute to the woman who—friendly reminder—doesn't actually exist. Unsurprisingly, all these elaborate details sprang from designs the artist created while "doodling wildly and quite drunkenly in front of the TV," he said.
All drunken doodling aside, Perry, in working with the architectural firm Fashion Architecture Taste, is motivated by social conscience: he hopes this project will challenge pejorative views about women from the region. Across the pond there's a stereotype that women from Essex are bimbos, an idea that's reenforced by a Jersey Shore-like TV show called The Only Way is Essex. Julie's concocted life story is one peppered with common troubles—unfinished schooling, divorce. In exalting the ordinary, Perry's avant-garde house attempts to shake up commonly held cultural conceptions. Thus, he says, the home is a memorial to (deep breath) "loved ones, to follies, to eccentric home-bult structures, to shrines, lighthouses, and fairytales." Wait. Lighthouses?