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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.

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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!”

The craft of the matter…

Curator Hugo MacDonaldQ&A with Hugo Macdonald, curator of the inaugural craft exhibition, Useful / Beautiful: Why Craft Matters

Design critic Hugo writes for several international titles Wallpaper*, Monocle and House & Garden. He consults across a broad range of industries, helping define narrative identity and strategy for clients, including Airbnb, The Goldsmiths’ Company, Vitra, Instagram and Ikea.

Can you give a brief summary of what’s happening at Harewood this spring?
It’s a very exciting time indeed. We are opening the inaugural exhibition of the new Harewood Biennial. The exhibition is called Useful/Beautiful: Why Craft Matters, and our mission has been to introduce ideas, challenge preconceptions and inspire debate about the role craft can play in life today. We are surrounded by the word craft today – whether on food packaging in supermarkets or luxury brands, galleries to gift shops to hobbies at home. I’m keen to ask questions about what craft is, and why it matters to us today: is it a product or a process? Is it always something handmade? Is it just a marketing buzzword?

What will visitors see and experience?
We have selected 26 diverse, contemporary practitioners of craft. The group has a variety of experiences, from recent graduates to names of global renown. They have different areas of expertise spanning fashion, textiles, woodwork, glass, metalwork, furniture, paper and leather. Each has been invited to exhibit in a different room on the State Floor and Below Stairs. The works respond in some way to the room, sometimes explicit, sometimes more subtle. So we have a bookbinder in the Main Library, a knife forger in the Old Kitchen, a ceramics studio in the China Room. Each of the exhibitors is a story in its own right, each promoting the idea in their own way that craft adds value to life.

Why craft, why now, why Harewood?
We are undoubtedly witnessing a resurgence of interest in craft. Harewood House itself is a fascinating platform to explore discussions around the subject. The house was built, decorated and furnished in the final days before the first industrial revolution, which would eventually spawn the Arts & Crafts movement. Our exhibition creates an intriguing contrast between historic and contemporary. The exhibits might look very different, but many techniques have not changed significantly. I hope visitors will see beyond aesthetic differences between “old and new” to question why these crafted exhibits are interesting to us today. What do they add to life?

Originally William Morris and the Arts & Crafts movement made a principled rejection of the Industrial Age, back in the late 19th century. With the explosive emergence of industry, there was a belief that it would destroy culture and society.

Today we are approaching the fourth industrial revolution, witnessing the rise of AI (Artificial Intelligence) and automation. I believe this is the reason for our current craft revival: in a world more reliant than ever on digital and virtual elements, people want to reconnect with the physical realm. We are witnessing times of enormous change beyond our control, characterised by forces we don’t understand. Craft is something fundamental. It is an innately human expression. We find it comforting and reassuring.

Who are the exhibitors and what will they bring?
Every exhibitor is fascinating in their own right and I’ve so enjoyed getting to know them and their work, and finding out why what they do matters to them. There is a broad mix: Wakefield-based paper artist and illustrator Andy Singleton is showing beautiful poetic sculptures; Welsh sustainable denim-makers Hiut Denim are demonstrating how craft can economically and socially boost a community; Fox Umbrellas prove that making one thing better than anyone else translates into a global multi-generational business run from a small workshop on the outskirts of Croydon. Visitors will discover Freed of London ballet shoes in The Music Room, with portraits of their work, together with the component parts and a heap of finished slippers. Every single one of the 330,000 slippers made each year is handmade to fit a single foot.

The aim is to show beautiful, contemporary handcrafted objects, against a classic backdrop and to take the time to not only admire, but to probe, question and consider. Craft has a vital place in contemporary life – we want visitors to leave inspired by the many wonderful stories and delighted by the many objects we often take for granted that are the result of another human’s extraordinary knowledge, time, care and skill.

“Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful”.
William Morris

Art Fund Support

5 Minutes with Nick Dowling, Bird Garden Manager

BirdGarden BlogNick Dowling hasn’t stopped over Christmas and New Year, as the Bird Garden at Harewood is constantly ‘open’ for activity looking after the birds. Here he takes five minutes out…

Are there any highlights from 2018 that you particularly enjoyed?
2018 was a busy but promising year for the Bird Garden. Several of our newly paired birds had their first attempts at breeding during the spring and summer months, including the red legged seriema and Satyr tragopan. Our palm cockatoos raised a chick and the collared hill partridge enjoyed another good season raising three more chicks, as did the silver pheasant pair.

We welcomed four female goats, two mothers and their kids, as well as four breeds of heritage chickens into the Walled Garden as part of the Seeds of Hope exhibition, which ran throughout the summer months. Our younger visitors in particular enjoyed feeding the goats and helping keepers to collect the eggs during the holidays.

Other highlights included the arrival of thirty Java sparrows, eleven black-cheeked lovebirds, a pair of Nepal kalij pheasants, two male critically-endangered Edward’s pheasants as well as a female burrowing owl to join our male.

But the main highlight of 2018 in the Bird Garden was the successful hand rearing of two Brown Lory chicks by keeper Lisa Bath. The two girls were removed from their nest at just two days old and raised for over two months, syringe fed on specially made formula every few hours. Goldie and Blue, as they were very soon to be known, had to be removed from their nest as the parents have been prone to feeding their young unsuitable food items, such as leaves and feathers. You will be able to meet Goldie and Blue when they move next door to the lovebirds in the spring.

The newly added Ferry across the Lake and its adjoining jetty, has proved extremely popular with visitors linking the Bird Garden on a scenic and restful route across to the Walled Garden, and many of the free-roaming birds have enjoyed this new space.

Whilst the House and grounds are closed for three months until March, what’s going on behind the scenes?
Over the next two and a half months the keepers and volunteers will be working hard to prepare for another breeding season, pairing up birds, making new nest boxes and providing suitable habitats to help the birds feel safe and secure in their environment. We also take this opportunity to carry out essential and routine maintenance work on aviaries and enclosures.

This is the time of year I look to move any young birds that we have bred at Harewood onto new homes in other zoos, as well as bringing in new birds to pair up with our own.

What’s on the agenda for when Harewood reopens in March?
We’ll be bringing in one or two exciting and fascinating new species ready for re-opening in March, watch this space for further announcements!

Jane Marriott, Trust Director, looking forward to 2019

HarewoodBiennial19_GlassWe are all now great Mary Berry fans at Harewood. Over Christmas over 2 million people watched Mary at Harewood House on the BBC.

But what we particularly enjoyed was showing Mary and the wonderful crew at Shine TV, the many stories that have developed here over two centuries, and give an insight into how the future might look.

Starting the year with so many political and economic uncertainties in the face of Brexit, it is perhaps not surprising that we look to the comfort and steadfastness of spending time at home, surrounding ourselves with our treasured and familiar objects, spending time with friends and family. The holiday industry is also anticipating that it will become a sector driven less by exotic spa-breaks and overseas far flung holidays, and more by a growth in accessible, affordable ways to take time out and enjoy what is on our doorstep.

Interestingly, everything is now seemingly based on buying local, supporting great makers and surrounding ourselves with beautiful, tactile objects, from thick wool rugs, to velvet throws and gorgeous objects on display – this is reassuring and helps us feel as though we have some control in how we look after ourselves. Our homes are a place to retreat to and replenish ….I’d like Harewood to feel the same as you drive through the gates into another world, which is just as familiar, warming and enjoyable.

Craft and design will always be affected by what is happening in the world and this current moment is no exception. We will celebrate great makers this year with ‘Useful/Beautiful: why craft matters’, the first exhibition of our newly launched Harewood Biennial. We’ll pose questions about craft in a digital age and our yearning still for something physical and sensory. To explore objects that give us a thrill to look at, touch and ponder. To wonder how something was made, who was involved and why they chose to make it. Our ambition is to create the most significant craft and design show outside London every two years.

We are clearly moving towards a rejection of a throw-away society and a pace of life so fast that it is exhausting. This year at Harewood we’ll continue to help visitors find their oasis of space, perhaps by wandering through the engaging sound installation of the Pleasure Garden, sited in the Walled Garden this summer, or by celebrating 30 years of working with great contemporary artists at Harewood, in a new exhibition in the autumn called ‘Postcards to the Future’.

For now, after a day of meandering through the glorious work of great craftsmen from the past at Harewood, from expansive Adam ceilings to intricate carvings on Chippendale furniture, I am happy to be inspired to create my own corner of luxury at home. Let’s not kid ourselves, my house is far from an architectural gem, revealing a mix of Georgian, Victorian and 20th century additions…but I can’t deny the thrill of pulling back old carpets and chipboard to reveal striking slightly battered floorboards yearning to be restored. My husband and I may yet be our own versions of great craftsmen ….!