Heavenly Mansions was commissioned by Dovecot Studios for the Grayson Perry exhibition Julie Cope’s Grand Tour. It was designed by Charles Holland as a cabinet of curiosities displaying sketches, maquettes and artefacts from the design process between Grayson Perry and the architects FAT as they worked towards creating A House for Essex, their collaborative design for a contemporary wayside chapel.
Like the house itself, the piece combines a number of influences including Russian wooden architecture, medieval and pilgrimage chapels, jewelled reliquaries and ancient tombs. It sits somewhere between display cabinet, dressing table and mausoleum.
The title, Heavenly Mansions, refers to the title of a book by John Summerson, the first curator of the John Soane Museum – another building that influenced the design of A House For Essex. In the essay, Summerson discusses the history of aedicular structures, little buildings that inhabit larger ones. In this sense, the cabinet captures in miniature many qualities of the house itself.
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