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April Skipp

Harewood Biennial 2024: Craft Spotlight Series

Harewood Biennial 2024: Create/Elevate celebrates the power of craft to inspire and bring people together to imagine new worlds. It introduces the work of sixteen British and international artists, designers and collectives, including four new commissions, which are presented across Harewood House and its Gardens.

As part of Biennial season, we’d also like to share the hidden craft stories of Harewood and take a look into the vibrant world of art and craft through the eyes of our dedicated staff, volunteers and Members.

Each individual we feature is a testament to the transformative power of creativity and the positive impact it can have on our lives and communities.

Through their stories, we hope to inspire you to find your own creative spark.

We’re also hosting a range of workshops from brush and broom making to silk scarf dying, embroidery and beer tasting.

Link to take you to August workshops

Craft Spotlight Series #1: Julie Cross

Julie is an award-winning artist living in Yorkshire, and a member of our Visitor Experience team. She is a figurative, expressionist painter who focuses upon female figures and faces to highlight some of the essentials of human existence.

We are overwhelmed by her talent and wanted to share how her creative journey began – it’s a surprising story!

Craft Spotlight Series #1: Julie Cross

Julie Cross, Visitor Experience Team Member, Harewood House Trust

Julie is a dynamic figurative, expressionist painter who brings the essence of human existence to life through her vivid depictions of female figures and faces.

Drawing inspiration from Joshua Reynolds’ iconic portrait of Lady Worsley, Julie has crafted a mesmerizing series of her own unique interpretations, reimagining Harewood’s legendary lady with her signature flair.

We’re overwhelmed by Julie’s talent and would like share how her creative journey began – it’s a surprising story!

Lady Worsley sketches by Julie Cross

How I got into painting . . . it’s not got any of that ‘romantic’ discovering a latent talent or anything like that, I’m afraid! As a kid, I was big into horses and reading, so not really arty at all, and nor were my family. As an adult, however, I was once asked at a dinner party what talent/ability I’d love to have, and I said it must be lovely to be able to paint and draw. My good old mum remembered me saying this and for my 40th birthday, she wanted to get something special. I got 10 presents, and I must admit, I was a bit nonplussed when I opened the first and it was just a simple pencil! It went on – a brush, then some watercolour paints etc –  until the 10th and final one which was a voucher for a watercolour workshop retreat! I had absolutely no intention of going, though I was deeply touched by the gesture. However, as a break from my arduous PhD studies whilst bringing up two kids, I ended up taking the course. But my mum had made a mistake and hadn’t got me a beginners’ course. It was straight out into the field with a load of experienced artists, painting from life! Talk about a baptism of fire! Anyway, I was absolutely hooked . . .

I taught myself from books and videos mainly, as well as taking workshops, and before I knew it, I ended up running and chairing a national art society, the Association of Animal Artists! I couldn’t resist my love of painting people and figures, though, so now that’s what I paint, and I moved to the medium of oil paint (much easier to paint skin and make changes with oil paint!).  The human animal is endlessly fascinating to me!

As to what the creative process makes me feel . . . I think I’ve always had a good imagination and I love to try new things, so creativity has always been part of me, just not through the medium of paint. Now, I couldn’t imagine my life without art. I paint and draw every day, and although I do paint things for specific purposes, I love to express my own thoughts and paint for myself.  The feeling you get when ‘lost’ in painting, alone in your studio in that flow state, fully immersed, with a total lack of self consciousness, when the grasp of time just slips away . . . bliss. It’s not always relaxing, of course, which is a common thing people say to you, as the problems you have to solve in painting are many, but it takes you away from your ‘real’ life into a different realm. In that respect, it’s all about the process, not the end product.

Lady Worsley courtesy of Julie Cross

Creativity is boundless – you never ‘use it all up’. Creating one thing stimulates you and leads onto others. Yes, creative work necessarily builds on what has gone before, so in that way there is nothing new under the sun.  But what YOU bring to it makes it unique.  We all have our own individual memories, experiences, doubts, fears, skillsets, and that’s what makes our creations original. You just have to let go and be yourself.  You use your personal image bank and processes, together with your unique stylistic flourishes.

Everyone who works at Harewood could paint or draw, or even trace, Lady Worsley in that pose of Joshua Reynolds, and every single one would be different.  That’s what I love about art. Endless variety and the innate human desire to express oneself and make a mark.

Lady Worsley courtesy of Julie Cross

The original portrait of Lady Worsley, by Joshua Reynolds, can be found in the Cinnamon Drawing Room above Harewood Biennial artist Temitayo Ogunbiyi’s sculpture.

Temitayo Ogunbiyi’s You will find Lagos in the United Kingdom Living is a site-specific sculpture inspired by natural forms and the flight routes between the UK and Lagos in Nigeria, where she lives.

Alluding to stories of transnational relationships and generations of people journeying across lands and seas, the titles of Ogunbiyi’s works are conceived as declarative prayers, each beginning with ‘You will’.

Temitayo Ogunbiyi’s You will find Lagos in the United Kingdom Living, Drew Forsyth

View more of Julie’s work on her website – juliecross.me

Follow Julie on instagram – @juliecrossart

NFU Mutual Agents to support Harewood’s new safari experience

Claire Cox, Head of Development, and Rachel Crewes, CEO of Harewood House Trust, with Samantha Webster and Caroline Pullich, Partners at NFU Mutual.

NFU Mutual Agents and their staff at the Boston Spa & Harrogate agency recently nominated local charity Harewood House Trust, to receive a donation of £6,509 from NFU Mutual’s national £1.92million ‘Agency Giving Fund’.

The leading rural insurer launched this fund, now in its fifth year, to help local frontline charities across the country. The Agency Giving Fund forms part of NFU Mutual’s £3.25m funding pledge for both local and national charities in 2024, to assist with the ongoing recovery from the pandemic and to help tackle the impact of the rising cost of living.

To ensure these donations reach all corners of the UK and are directed to where they’re needed most, all NFU Mutual Agencies, with more than 280 offices nationwide, have been given the opportunity to nominate local charities to receive a share of the fund.

The UK charity sector has faced unprecedented challenges due to the combined impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and the ongoing cost of living crisis. Harewood House Trust is an independent educational charity as is amongst those that have been affected.

Thanks to the support of NFU Mutual and the Harewood Estate, Harewood House Trust will launch a new nature safari experience sharing fabulous views over the lake, woodlands and parkland.

Young girl and adult looking at the wildlife below the bridge in the Himalayan Garden

Young girl and adult looking at the wildlife below the bridge in the Himalayan Garden, Tom Arber

The funding will go towards providing transport and opening up access to hard-to-reach areas, giving visitors a chance to spot some of the incredible array of wildlife. Harewood is home to amphibians, butterflies, and insects, not to mention the large population of red kites and deer who call Harewood their home. This initiative will ensure that more people can experience the natural beauty and diverse species that thrive in these areas.

Caroline Pullich, Managing Partner at NFU Mutual Boston Spa Agency covering Yorkshire, said: “We’re extremely proud to have nominated Harewood House Trust for this donation and are delighted to be able to support the vital contribution they make to our community. NFU Mutual’s Agency Giving Fund was first created in 2020 in response to the pandemic, and this ongoing support is helping to change lives, providing both emergency support and building long-term resilience.”

Claire Cox, Head of Development at Harewood House Trust, added: “We are so grateful to the Boston Spa & Harrogate Agency of NFU Mutual, for nominating us for a donation from the NFU Mutual Agency Giving Fund. Thanks to this support, we can provide safari transport that will enable visitors and school groups to easily explore more of the landscape. This will also benefit those audiences in receipt of Universal or Pension Credit and other benefits who are using our new £2 day ticket. The safari will be an opportunity for everyone to learn about the incredible natural environment at Harewood and what we are doing to protect it for future generations.”