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Bold, ambitious and exciting shows, says Trust Director, Jane Marriott

Why Craft Matters, Harewood House

Picture Credit – Charlotte Graham

When we are going through such turbulent political and economic times, we clearly seek reassurance, that hope, and indeed joy, can still be found in our own backyards.

Once more, we seem to be placing a greater importance on supporting local communities; buying local and supporting those who endeavour to make objects on our doorsteps in order to keep skills alive, or indeed supporting industries that seek to resurrect whole communities. It is this and many more questions we would like to pose, in the opening of our first Harewood Biennial and one of our most ambitious shows to-date.

‘Useful/Beautiful: Why Craft Matters’, opens on 23 March to present and explore the work of 26 makers, including three very special commissions for Harewood. It was really important that we did not restrict our choice to those who work by themselves, but rather, that we included the widest range of craft from studios to manufacturers, all taking pride in creating beautifully crafted objects. By doing this, we can exhibit everything from beautiful glass pieces, to denim jeans, to paper sculptures, to handmade ballet shoes and glorious copper pans. We hope this will inspire debate on why craft matters. Why have we become so interested in these objects? We seem fascinated by the way they are created with care and thought, often using materials in interesting ways and celebrating, or indeed, supporting our very local communities. We want to understand how they were made.

Our ambition for Harewood is to create bold and exciting shows that our visitors and members will never forget. To do this, I realised very early on, that I needed to partner with the best people to make this happen. Hugo Macdonald is one such person, whom I met over a year ago, and was clearly the right person to curate our show on contemporary craft. He is a writer, curator and I would argue a great philosopher of our times. He is also clearly making excellent choices, as in the last two months alone, one of our exhibitors, Yinka Ilori, has just won New Designer at the Elle Decoration Design Awards.

Likewise, as a charity, none of this would be possible without the support and foresight of our supporters, including the Arts Council of England, the Crafts Council, Art Fund and our Harewood House Members. Indeed, one of the most innovative ways to support us, has come from a great Yorkshire based firm; G.F.Smith, based in Hull, known for their passion for paper and ‘a belief in its beauty and possibilities’. It is the innovative use of a seemingly very simple material that has allowed us to shine a light on these great craft pieces, without detracting from the magnificence of the surroundings of Harewood House – a balancing act we’ve all thought long and hard about.

I hope you come and see the show and let us know if we have succeeded in igniting this debate, and shown you some of the most beautiful, and yes sometimes even useful objects, as well. We don’t expect you to all feel the same about the pieces, nor indeed that you all explore this show in the same way….I suspect some of us prefer the twilight private tours with a glass of bubbly in hand, whilst others will want to roll up their sleeves and learn new skills as part of our brand new workshop programme. Sometimes though we may find ourselves with our kids who want to run around the house and grounds delighting in what they see and perhaps even be inspired to look at objects they see every day in a very different light. We really don’t mind as long as you get the chance to explore and perhaps to dream…..”

Read more about The Harewood Biennial 

Leeds Band Hope & Social Making Music at Harewood

Hope&Social Harewood HouseResidencyThe next big hit might just be inspired from Harewood, as the energetic and popular Leeds-based rock band Hope & Social move in for a four-week writing and recording residency whilst the House and gardens get ready to open to the public at the end of March.

The Volunteer Bookshop at Terrace Cottage in the grounds of Harewood House is their base, since they posted a call-out on Twitter for a venue in which to write their sixth album. Harewood House Director Jane Marriott quickly responded with an invitation to visit.

The six-piece band, who define themselves as ‘Trying to change the world by making noise, being late and dancing like we mean it’ are well-known for their animated approach to music making and performance.

Jane said, “I’ve seen Hope & Social play several times and wanted to find a great way to work together, having been captivated by their energy and spirit. They are always in such demand, that I’m delighted we’ve finally found a way to make it work.
“Harewood has a strong association with music and also a commitment to working with great artists and whilst we had the space, we just thought having them on site would be great fun. For us and for them.”

“What an opportunity.” said James Hamilton from Hope & Social. “Harewood is such an amazing location and we now have plenty of room to be totally creative and make lots of noise. And we don’t even have to worry about the neighbours.”

As a thank-you to the charity, the band will perform live and take part in music workshops across several dates during the open season, with their first performance for visitors in The Courtyard on Mother’s Day on Sunday 31 March, to coincide with the launch weekend for Useful/Beautiful: Why Craft Matters.

For further information follow us @HarewoodHouse on social media.

Mother’s Day Weekend

Mothers Day Afternoon Tea It’s the next major family celebration on the calendar and there are some lovely treats to discover and share at Harewood this year.

Across the weekend there’s a Makers’ Market in The Courtyard and live music from Leeds-based band Hope & Social, who will have just finished their month-long writing and recording residency in the Volunteer Bookshop at Terrace Cottage, in the grounds of Harewood House.

Wander around the house and discover the 26 exhibitors featured in Useful/Beautiful: Why Craft Matters, take a springtime walk around the grounds and see our gardens in bloom, and for a real treat, book a Mother’s Day Afternoon Tea in our Billiard Room, a location that many enjoyed over Christmas.

What’s On:
– See the brand new Useful/Beautiful exhibition in the State Floor and Below Stairs of the House
– Visit the Courtyard for our Spring Makers’ Market and for a range of artisan food, craft, gifts and contemporary wares
– Make your own sketchbooks with our Family Bookbinding Workshop in the Steward’s Room
– Visit the Maker’s Cabin and explore our range of family activities and trails to guide you around the House and grounds
– Take park in a magical springtime adventure with our Theatrical Outdoor Trail which will take you on a journey around the Harewood’s gardens (Saturday only)
– See the wonderful Hope & Social perform at Harewood – join in with some musical workshops and watch a live performance in the Courtyard (Sunday only)

Relax and enjoy a blissful afternoon together over a glass of fizz and an assortment of delicate finger sandwiches, homemade cakes and a freshly baked scone with Strawberries, Homemade Jam and Clotted Cream, plus, of course your choice of Tea or Coffee.

Book Afternoon Tea

Adult £55
Child £25

Includes Harewood Entry and a floral gift for Mums to take home.

Follow us on social media @HarewoodHouse to keep up to date with the latest news and stories…

From winter to spring in the gardens

Trevor Nicholson GardensAt this time of the year, there’s a great deal of focus on essential maintenance work around the gardens. Head Gardener, Trevor, gives a brief overview of what’s going on in the garden right now.

Whilst the plants are effectively sleeping, it’s a busy moment to get them cut back and the surrounding earth cleared, so that they can grow again when the spring warmth arrives.

The Terrace Garden is a key focus as it was planted to create an impressive setting to the back of the fine Georgian House. The borders are currently being reworked, which takes meticulous attention to detail. When spring and summer arrives, it will be blooming with classic English borders; delphiniums, roses, hollyhocks, dahlias, penstemon and salvia to name a few, and with bright colours that will extend throughout the summer.

Spring Terrace:
– 8,000 sweetly scented, beautiful blue Hyacinth bulbs planted in the parterre
– 7,000 Violas in blue and white
– 3,000 tulips planted in the House borders
– 1-mile of box hedging clipped to perfection (top and sides, making 3-miles of clipping)

Archery Border:
Step down the staircase at the end of the Terrace and the horticultural journey continues along the Archery Border. It’s worth the effort. A statement border planted 1998 – 2000, the Terrace wall provides reflective heat, which when south facing, is warming and has its own micro-climate.

A sub-tropical scheme with hot colours, it’s incredible that here in the north of England you can find fig trees, palm trees, Yuccas, Chinese Rice Paper plants and bananas!

Many of the plants are currently wrapped up in hessian to keep them warm and to protect them from a damaging frost. They are their own sort of plant sculptures down here.

Trevor will be looking at the gardens each month and highlighting the developments in this important part of Harewood.

Follow us on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook to keep up to date with more behind the scenes stories and news.

Marching on together…

Lord Harewood Leeds United President

David Lascelles, Earl of Harewood, wears his Leeds colours with pride, as he is announced Honorary President of Leeds United, in this the club’s centenary year.

“It really is an honour to be asked to be President of Leeds United. My father held the post for nearly fifty years and my step-mother too for a few months before she died.

My father started taking me to Elland Road as a boy and I’ve been a season ticket holder since we won the last First Division Championship in 1992.

Now I go with my own sons and in the last couple of years with my young grandsons too. It’s the club’s centenary year and it feels like we are at the start of something very exciting, with the best manager in the league and a group of committed and passionate players. I’m proud to be a small part of it. Marching On Together!”