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John Varley at Harewood House

John Varley (1778 – 1842) was a key figure in the history of the development of British watercolours. From 1800 he studied at Dr Monro’s Academy and made early sketching tours to Wales from 1798 – 1802.  He was initially strongly influenced by Thomas Girtin. A founder member of the Society of Watercolour Artists in London in 1804, he would go on to exhibit over 700 works there. As a teacher, he impacted the next generation of watercolourists, counting among his successful pupils David Cox, Copley Fielding, John Linnell,
Samuel Palmer and Peter de Wint.

Varley first came into contact with Edward, Viscount Lascelles, son of the first Earl of Harewood and an avid collector of watercolours, in 1801. Two years later, in 1803, he visited Yorkshire and painted a number of accomplished views of Harewood House and one of the Castle.  This group of works was an important early commission for Varley. The watercolours displayed on this wall – Harewood House from the North West and Harewood House from the South West – are of considerable scale and ambition. They give far more architectural detail than the earlier more famous works by J.M.W Turner, also commissioned by Edward Lascelles.  The smaller Harewood House from the South by Varley shows the house from a distance, set within the landscape with a felled tree and woodsman in the foreground.  Boldly painted, it is undoubtedly influenced by Turner’s Harewood House from the South East but the tones are paler (displayed on the central wall).

It was only natural that the romantic medieval ruined castle, dating back to 1366, would attract visiting artists and it was painted by Varley, as well as his predecessors Turner and Girtin.  In Varley’s work, the castle is distant, partially covered in foliage and the broad landscape and foreground figures dominate the composition (displayed above the fireplace).

A further watercolour of the ‘model’ village at Harewood is also attributed to Varley or his circle (displayed next to the fireplace). The village drew the attention of the pastel painter, John Russell, who visited in 1802 and noted that the buildings were all ‘of stone, with a regularity and neatness that I never saw exceeded with a wide main street’, before being escorted through the arch by the steward to visit the house itself. Edward, Viscount Lascelles, who died in 1814, also owned an early view of Snowdon by Varley, but does not seem to have patronised him later in his career.  Varley went on to write a number of important books on watercolour painting, including Treatise on the Principles of Landscape Design (1816 – 18), and invented his own range of colours. This fine group of watercolours illustrates a key early commission when the artist was still painting views of country houses before developing an accomplished landscape style influenced by the 17th century artist Claude Lorrain.

Carnival Messiah at Harewood House

In September 2007 to celebrate the bicentenary of the Abolition of the Transatlantic Slave Trade, Harewood House staged a production of Carnival Messiah a huge spectacular theatrical event. It’s creator was Geraldine Connor a theatre director, educationalist and musician from Trinidad.

Harewood’s David Lascelles was the executive producer and instigator in bringing Carnival Messiah to Harewood “We wanted to acknowledge our history but at the same time to celebrate the present, I don’t know of any more exuberant, more spectacular, more inclusive expression of contemporary Caribbean culture than Carnival Messiah.

Carnival Messiah 

Carnival Messiah is a radical reinvention of George Fredrick Handel’s Messiah the production fuses together traditional and contemporary music, dance and carnival practices.  The idea came from Geraldine’s desire to celebrate both her Caribbean and British roots.

It was first created with students at Bretton Hall, Leeds University where Geraldine was a lecturer and then performed at the West Yorkshire playhouse in 1999 and then in Trindad in 2003 and 2004.

The 2007 the production at Harewood House was performed over two weeks in a big top tent in the grounds of the Harewood Estate.  With a cast of over a 100 community performers from Chapeltown, Leeds and legendary international artists.

Now a cultural landmark in both Leeds and the Caribbean, Carnival Messiah set the tone for what would become Geraldine’s enduring legacy, one of equality, diversity, empowerment, and inclusion in society through the Arts.

Geraldine Connor Foundation

After Geraldine Connor died prematurely in 2011, an arts organisation was established to continue her legacy.

The Geraldine Connor Foundation Geraldine’s works with people from all backgrounds to develop creative projects. Core to GCF’s work is the creation of opportunities in the Arts for talented young performers from diverse and challenging backgrounds. GCF’s creative projects cover the widest possible spectrum of art forms, and the organisation’s unique events and performances aim to enrich people’s lives.

Ultimately, GCF seeks to grow the family which Geraldine herself was at the heart of; a family of individuals whose lives were changed by her intense creative energy, her ability to see potential in people and her enormous generosity of spirit.

gcfoundation.co.uk

 Carnival Messiah The Film

To celebrate 10 years since Carnival Messiah was last performed at Harewood House a film of the production has been created. Ashley Karrell the film maker was a friend and mentee of Geraldine’s and directed this lasting legacy.

The full version of the film can be seen as part of Leeds International Film Festival on Tuesday 7th November, 8.15pm at Leeds Town Hall for tickets please contact leedstownhall.co.uk

Harewood House Launches a Victorian Christmas

Victorian Christmas at Harewood

Harewood House is pleased to announce a special five-week Christmas season, A Victorian Christmas, which will see the house and grounds open during the festive period for the first time in five years. To celebrate the new series of ITV’s Victoria, which is filmed on location at Harewood House, the show’s award-winning creative director, Michael Howells, will create a magical Christmas experience giving visitors the opportunity to explore the house in full Victorian splendour.

At the beginning of the nineteenth century, Christmas was not regarded as a significant event. However, in 1848, the Illustrated London News published a drawing of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert celebrating around a decorated Christmas tree. The trend was adopted by the British people and by the end of the nineteenth century Christmas in the UK had become the major annual celebration it is today, with trees, homemade decorations, Christmas cards and gifts.

In celebration of the Victorians’ love of Christmas, the event will give visitors an insight into the ways the Victorians created and informed the Christmas traditions we enjoy today, including Christmas dinner, carol singing, the Christmas tree and present giving. Storytelling will be at the heart of the event with inspiration being taken from Harewood’s own archives and collections.

Display highlights will include loans from Ilkley Toy Museum including Victorian board games, dolls houses, toy soldiers and rare dolls from the era. Additionally, visitors will have the rare opportunity of exploring the award-winning gardens, which although usually closed throughout the winter months, will be open until 3:30pm daily.

Harewood’s magnificent State Floor, which is one of the principal locations for Victoria, will be beautifully dressed with visually stunning Victorian decorations, while ‘below stairs’, in the kitchens, visitors will get a sense of the hustle and bustle of a stately country house, with a cornucopia of traditional Christmas foods being prepared.

As well as the festive dressing, visitors will be able to enjoy a series of events and activities including wreath making, twilight tours, floristry workshops and Fireside Father Christmas.

Jane Marriott, Director of Harewood House Trust said, “2017 has been a positive year for Harewood House Trust. We have had a fantastic response from visitors to our Victorian Harewood season so extending this into an immersive Christmas event is really exciting. We are thrilled to be opening the house for Christmas and to be working with Michael Howells on the project.”

Michael Howells said, “I’m delighted to be working with Harewood House Trust for this event. Harewood has been an incredible place to work filming Victoria for the last two years and has provided us with some fantastic inspiration. It’s a special place, filled with history and wonderful stories to tell.”

Harewood House Sees Visitors Increase Following ITV Victoria Series and Successful Exhibitions

ITV's Victoria filmed at Harewood House

As series 2 of ITV’s blockbuster drama Victoria airs, Harewood House Trust announces increased visitors numbers following the successful Victorian Harewood exhibitions inspired by the production which used Harewood as a key location. The major exhibitions have seen historically accurate costumes from the programme displayed in the house alongside personal objects owned by Queen Victoria.

Jane Marriott, Director of Harewood House Trust said: “2017 has been a fantastic year for Harewood House Trust. As a charity, we have a responsibility to preserve and protect Harewood and its collections; filming is an important revenue stream which helps this work continue.

To capitalise on the Victoria production, we have shaped our season around Harewood’s Victorian history; costumes from Victoria have been on display including the famous coronation gown worn by Jenna Coleman who plays Victoria in the programme. Alongside the stunning costumes, personal items owned by Queen Victoria, Charlotte Canning, Queen Victoria’s lady-in-waiting, and Lady Louisa, 3rd Countess of Harewood, have been displayed adding real authenticity to the exhibitions in the house.”

“The response has been incredibly positive and we have seen visitors to Harewood significantly increase compared to the same period last year.”

Harewood House has been transformed into Buckingham Palace for both series 1 and 2 of the programme. Many of the opulent rooms on the State Floor, the famous kitchens Below Stairs as well as exteriors of the house and parts of the Estate have been used in the production.

Jane Marriott said, “We are looking forward to series 2 and seeing Harewood on screen once again. We hope to see more visitors coming to Harewood before the Victoria costume exhibition and the Victorian Harewood displays close on 29th October.”

Jane Marriott said, “Watch out for our announcement this autumn for our new Christmas season extending our celebration of all things Victorian.”

Filming at Harewood House, 2nd – 5th August

Victoria ITV

As you may know, Harewood House has been used as a major set for ITV’s flagship period drama “Victoria”. Throughout the first series, the production saw Harewood transformed into Buckingham Palace and Kensington Palace. The programme was viewed by over 7 million people here in Britain and has also been broadcast in over 100 countries worldwide. Series two is currently being filmed across Yorkshire and on the 2nd – 5th August, Harewood will once again become Buckingham Palace. This will cause some changes to visitor access to the House and grounds.

To allow the film crew to transform Harewood House into Buckingham Palace, we will close Below Stairs between 2nd – 5th August.  Part of the Terrace, Terrace Cafe and Terrace Gallery will be closed on 2nd, 3rd and 4th August but will reopen on the 5th August. Please note on 3rd August, no access to the Terrace will be possible.

To ensure that you can enjoy all of the House, we will be opening the State Floor to all visitors between 2nd – 5th August at no additional cost. This will allow you to see the magnificent rooms and the Victorian Harewood exhibitions.

Filming generates vital income for Harewood and it makes a significant difference to the charity. We would like to thank all our visitors in advance for their patience and we hope that you enjoy seeing the House being used by a large film production like “Victoria”.