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Notes for an Axminster Carpet by Rommi Smith

See Axminster carpets at Harewood in Yorkshire

A poem for Harewood’s Axminster carpets

The acclaimed poet Rommi Smith has written a new poem in response to Harewood House Trust’s on-going reassessment of its historic Axminster carpets and as part of a partnership with Leeds University’s Yorkshire Year of the Textile programme.

These unique carpets have survived since the late 18th century and were specifically commissioned for the Music Room and Yellow Drawing Room –  both designed by the architect Robert Adam. They are very rare examples of carpets still shown in the original rooms that they were designed to compliment.

Rommi Smith wrote the poem Notes for an Axminster Carpet and performed it here on the 20th May 2017 accompanied by the composer and musician Jenni Molloy.

The poem is composed of a short series of imagined notes as if written by Robert Adam, to Thomas Whitty, proprietor of the Axminster Factory, Devon, where the carpets originated from.

The poems make reference to classical motifs that can be seen in the rooms for which the carpets were specially created and to historical notes written about the carpets and their rooms.

These poem-notes, could be considered directorial, almost theatrical, notes from Adam to Whitty. The poem, in homage to the carpets, is also site-specific, therefore, each section of the poem should, ideally, be read in the location for which it was written and intended to be performed.

Notes for an Axminster Carpet
By Rommi Smith

 ‘I was surprised to find such a little paltry place the origin of so much magnificence. The manufactory is all the property of one man. The work is chiefly done by women […] They were then employed in weaving a large carpet for Lord Harewood, late Mr Lascelles, which was to cost one hundred and forty pounds.’ – Reverend ED Clarke on his visit to the Axminster factory, 1791.

‘I […] had engaged myself for tomorrow […]’ Robert Adam, London: June, 7, 1788.

Note 1: Hallway

Mr. Thomas Whitty, Proprietor

Axminster Factory

Silver Street

Devon

England

 

Dear Sir,

please accept –

these notes for an Axminster carpet.

I send them, accompanied by these drawings,

not so much directions, but as artefacts of longing:

what we make of the moment

we leave for the pleasure of tomorrow.

 

Envisage (if you will), a hall

beyond the grounds that time will anoint

with Capability’s hands,

where a man might stand

as though he were the first at all;

 

my namesake; a song of alabaster:

earth-footed, yet jubilant face in heavenward devotion

to the firmament scored with stars on staves of Hallelujah.

 

This, then, Sir is the music, this is the pitch

from which this first note for the design emerges.

 

Note II: The Terrace

Vista our trade, desire our bread –

these are the dreams from which to craft the threads:

the earth the warp, the sky the weft

with which to divine Nature’s Carpet.

 

Note III: Yellow Drawing Room

To the tune of yellow silk (colour of July, or a midday

Badian sun) this carpet must succumb.

It will have a central, circular medallion

containing a bloom-head encased in anthemion

set into the heart of a four-pointed star.

Behind it, unfurling acanthus,

within dusk-rose and olive chain –

rosette borders, panels at each end.

 

This, Sir, will be the design, complimented

by the clean, yet ostentatious lines

of Mr. Chippendale’s imagination.

Note IV: The Music Room

At its heart, a central motif extending out

into a parasol of dawn-pink and spring leaves,

til the ‘unheard melodies’ of lyres,

which take their pitch from an Italian-green universe,

where large planets of rosette are circled by constellations

of light. The edges of this galaxy form an outer pole and ribbon stripe.

 

Carpet should be to ceiling – as earth is to sky.

With this carpet, one should expect

to better understand why we bury a man

in order for his soul to rise

and occupy the glory of a place in heaven –

 
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yours sincerely,

Mr. Robert Adam.

 

Filming at Harewood House, 17th – 20th May 2017

Visit Yorkshire to see film locations from Victoria at Harewood

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 between the 17th May – 20th May Harewood will once again become Buckingham Palace. This will cause some changes to visitor access to the House.

To allow the film crew to transform Below Stairs of Harewood House into the kitchens and corridors of Buckingham Palace, we will close Below Stairs during the 17th – 20th May. Access to the Terrace Gallery, Terrace Café and Gavin Fernandes’ exhibition, The Empire Line, will still be possible on 17th, 19th and 20th May.

On 18th May, the film crew are using the southern exteriors of the House. The Terrace will be used so access to this garden and all areas of Below Stairs will not be possible. The State Floor will close slightly earlier, with last admission at 3pm.

To ensure that you can enjoy all of the House, we will be opening the State Floor to all visitors on the 17th May – 20th May at no additional cost. This will allow you to see the magnificent rooms and the Victorian Harewood exhibitions. There will be some disruption to rooms on the State Floor on the 19th May as the Main Library is prepared for filming. Please talk to the team and refer to visitor information when you visit.

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”.

Harewood House Prepares for Filming

Visit Yorkshire to see ITV's Victoria location at Harewood

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 be broadcast in over 100 countries worldwide.
Series two is currently being filmed across Yorkshire and between the 6th – 8th April, Harewood will once again become Buckingham Palace. This will cause some changes to visitor access to the house.

To allow the film crew to transform Below Stairs of Harewood House into the kitchens and corridors of Buckingham Palace, we will close Below Stairs during the 6th, 7th and 8th April. Access to the Terrace Gallery, Terrace Café and Gavin Fernandes’ exhibition, The Empire Line, will still be possible.

To ensure that you can enjoy all of the house, we will be opening the State Floor to all visitors on the 6th, 7th and 8th April at no additional cost. This will allow you to see the magnificent rooms and the Victorian Harewood exhibitions. There will be some disruption to rooms on the State Floor as the Main Library is prepared for filming. Please talk to the team and refer to visitor information when you visit.

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”.

Harewood House Develops Exciting New Film Tourism Offer

Visit Harewood House to see ITV's Victoria costume

To coincide with English Tourism Week (25th March – 2nd April 2017), Harewood House in Yorkshire will launch an exciting series of exhibitions hoping to capitalise on the increasing demand from visitors to see film and TV locations.

Harewood House was used as a major set for ITV’s blockbuster series ‘Victoria’ and the exhibition, titled Victorian Harewood, will present an impressive collection of costumes from series one, including the iconic Coronation dress worn by actress Jenna Coleman who plays Queen Victoria. Visitors will also be able to see many of the rooms used in the series which transformed Harewood House into Buckingham Palace and Kensington Palace.

‘Victoria’ has been broadcast in over 100 countries around the world, and the impact on Harewood House’s visitor figures will become clear after Harewood opens on 24th March 2017. With series two of ‘Victoria’ currently being filmed at Harewood House, David Lascelles, Earl of Harewood and fourth generation grandson of Queen Victoria, commented:

“There are always new stories to tell about Harewood and the success of ITV’s ‘Victoria’ gives us the chance to bring that era here to life – something we’ve never really done before. It’s great to be able to link a successful TV show with our own history in this way and I hope it will bring new audiences as well as giving something different for our faithful and much valued members.”

As part of Victorian Harewood, personal objects, letters and archive material from Harewood’s collection including Queen Victoria’s writing set, a pocket watch given to Victoria for her birthday from her mother and a rare book of etchings made by Victoria and Albert will be shown.

The exhibition also includes a fascinating, contemporary response by modern-day artists. The Empire Line presents contemporary photography by Gavin Fernandes, using fashion photography to look at narratives of race, culture, history and the Victorian Empire.

In addition, a selection of 21st century re-interpretations of the Victorian bust from artist Kathy Dalwood’s Secret Society series will be displayed in the China Room. Instead of sculpting in clay or stone the busts are made by direct casting from real things and found objects which are collaged together, moulded and cast in plaster.

For more information visit: www.harewood.org

Harewood Volunteer Programme – why not join us?

Now in its 19th year, the Harewood Volunteer Programme continues to go from strength to strength. In 2016, over 18,000 hours were given by volunteers, supporting Harewood House Trust. With over 200 returning volunteers, the programme, and importantly the people who give their time, are an integral part of the charity.

Each year, all Harewood’s dedicated volunteers attend a Welcome Day as Harewood House once again prepares to open its doors on 24th March. The atmosphere is always fantastic as old friends and new gather together to preview what’s in store for the forthcoming year. This year, a focus on our Victorian heritage awaits with rare objects owned by Queen Victoria on display alongside costumes from ITV’s Victoria series.

Of the 200 volunteers who regularly give their time, over half are based in the House where they play a vital role welcoming visitors. They cast a watchful eye over the rooms they are caring for making sure that our visitors, members, coach groups and schools get the best out of their time in the house.

Harewood House in Yorkshire has volunteeres

Mary Cook has volunteered in the house for over 13 years. Mary said, “I started volunteering after a friend recommended Harewood to me. 13 years later, I’m still enjoying meeting visitors and learning from them.

When you start volunteering at Harewood there isn’t a prerequisite to know everything but as you spend time in each room you gain more and more knowledge. After volunteering at Harewood I’m always buzzing and my mind is full of all the interesting people and fellow volunteers I have met that day.”

Volunteers in Yorkshire at Harewood House Farm Experience

Harewood’s Volunteer Programme extends far beyond the House with volunteers giving their time all year round in the Gardens, Bird Garden and Farm Experience. As a licensed zoo, Harewood’s Bird Garden supports students each year through the volunteer opportunities it offers. Many choose to use their time at Harewood to support further education and career ambitions in zoology and animal welfare.

With 120 acres of formal grounds including the Terrace, Himalayan Garden and Walled Garden, help and support from our dedicated band of garden volunteers is invaluable ensuring the grounds and gardens always look at their very best.

Volunteers at Harewood working in the garden

Alan Skedd, is in his 10th season as a Garden Volunteer. Alan said, “Volunteering is useful, productive and satisfying. I get pleasure from seeing how my efforts make a difference and I hope to continue volunteering until age and my health allows”.

Head Gardner, Trevor Nicholson said, “Our garden volunteers play a vital role in maintaining the grounds supporting with weeding, pruning and other tasks which can be endless in a place as large as Harewood.”

Every department from Marketing to Education values the important role that volunteers have in the Trust. At a time when the demand for volunteers is at an all-time high, we know that we are incredibly lucky to have the support and help of so many dedicated people.

To volunteer at Harewood, is to experience one of Yorkshire’s most beautiful houses and landscapes, and to be part of a very special team. Many volunteers return season after season, renewing friendships and deriving satisfaction knowing they have contributed to history of this great house.

If volunteering at Harewood is something that would appeal to you it is not too late to sign up before the House and grounds open on March 24th. There are many opportunities from the Bookshop which is entirely run and managed by volunteers, to the Shuttle Bus which was responsible for transporting over 21,000 people around Harewood in 2016.
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To join the scheme or if you have any questions simply contact the Volunteer Coordinator on volunteer@harewood.org or visit our website.