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Edward Appleyard

Announcing Harewood’s 2021 season

Harewood reveals first part of 2021 UP+OPEN programme with a focus on Wellbeing, Culture Outdoors and Open History.

Yorkshire’s 2020 Large Visitor Attraction of the Year is open throughout the week once more as Harewood House Trust invites everyone to enjoy its 250-year-old House and its Gardens, Bird Garden, Play and parkland. Aiming to inspire and enrich, it today announces a programme to help us all recover from the ongoing effects of Covid-19, opening up new parts of the site for the first time with a brand new circular walk, and continues to push the agenda in being open about its past, calling out racism, and reiterating that Harewood is a place open for all.

UP+OPEN:
GET OUTDOORS, FIND YOUR WELLBEING

Harewood’s spring season has begun, welcoming people back to enjoy its beautiful surroundings bursting into spring life, its gardens coming into bud, and to find a moment of respite from the last year. In line with dates to be re-confirmed by government, from Monday 29 March there’s no better place to re-meet friends and family as the rule of six comes back into play; our Courtyard Café, run by the Harewood Food & Drink Project, will be open again (for take away only until 17 May). The Harewood Bird Garden, which celebrated its 50th anniversary last year, will open on Monday 12 April, along with the Courtyard Shop.

Together We Are, by graphic artist Anthony Burrill, launches a brand new three mile circular walk (see below) taking in Harewood’s North Woods featuring this latest commission. Opening in mid-May and featuring six unique flag artworks, Burrill’s work will encourage moments of mindfulness, giving pause for thought set against a backdrop of stunning views of Harewood and beyond.

The circular Big Harewood Walk unlocks brand new parts of the site for the first time. Split into three sections – the North Woods, the South View and the Lakeside Tour – the circular route will take in All Saints’ Church with its beautifully-crafted alabaster tombs and a secret tunnel in the North Woods, with our Horsebox newly relocated for an energy-boosting treat; it will open up Harewood’s East Terrace and South View for the very first time, and link up with the Lakeside Tour which takes in the Bird Garden, Himalayan Garden, Bothy and Walled Garden.

Pop-up play is back after being such a big hit last summer with children and grown-ups alike. Harewood’s Woodland Wonderland features willow mazes and tunnels by artist Leilah Vyner, nestled next to the Church, opening up yet more of this beautiful site for families to adventure into.

UP+OPEN:
OPEN HISTORY

Harewood’s Open History programme is part of our commitment to bring our past to life. Being transparent about colonial history and ensuring the Trust hosts much-needed, and sometimes difficult, conversations is vital to calling out racism, and to forge new connections with visitors and the communities of the cities and countryside around us. Open History is therefore devised to engage our audiences with the urgent issues of our time, and aims to engender empathy and understanding of these issues in order to celebrate diversity.

Harewood have teamed up with Leeds-based DSRG (the Diasporian Stories Research Group) to bring to life the story of Harewood’s first black member of staff, George ‘Bertie’ Robinson, who traveled with the 5th Earl and Countess from St Vincent to Leeds aged 13 to work for the Lascelles family. The display, Bertie Robinson: The Footman from St Vincent, which launches in the Yellow Drawing Room from 17 May, is part of an annual series which will celebrate and share the histories of people of African descent with Yorkshire connections throughout history. Bertie lived at Harewood from 1893–1922. Letters, diaries and photographs chart his life, as well as exploring some of the Lascelles’ links to the West Indies, the history of St Vincent, and attitudes towards people of colour at that time.

Launching in early summer, Heritage Corner bring their unique brand of insightful Black History Walks to Harewood following the success of their regular events in Leeds City Centre. In their walking story – A Storm at Harewood, stretched across the House and Grounds – 
Joe Williams and Vanessa Mudd explore inspiring black history and hidden connections to the splendours of Harewood in an imaginative, fun and family-friendly way. Walks go on sale from mid-April.

The Trust looks forward to revealing more aspects of its Open History programme later in the year, as part of its continued commitment to combating racism.

UP+OPEN:
HAREWOOD UNLIMITED

In the coming weeks, we will unveil a new series of exclusive opportunities to experience Harewood in UNLIMITED ways. Summer twilights on the Terrace with live music and great food, bird watching tours, behind-the-scenes access to Harewood’s Attic Rooms and Below Stairs, early evening boat trips with fizz joined by expert zoologists and gardeners, curator tours and more will give audiences fascinating ways to explore Harewood like never before.

SPECIAL EVENTS

Harewood will be the first venue to host MAMMA MIA! in an outdoor performance of this West End hit from 13 to 30 August. The feel-good musical, now in its 22nd year, gives families and friends a great opportunity to enjoy a fun-filled show with Harewood as its stunning backdrop, whilst enjoying great food and drink under open skies.

Much missed last year, the Great British Food Festival returns for the late spring bank holiday weekend from Saturday 29 to Monday 31 May. The Luna Drive-In Cinema makes a welcome return between 3 and 21 June bringing more box office hits to Harewood, plus more Outdoor Theatre will be announced for the summer months.

Jane Marriott, Trust Director comments:

‘Covid-19 has changed, perhaps permanently, how we live and how we enjoy our time. After such a difficult year, we are delighted to welcome everyone back to Harewood for our UP+OPEN 2021 programme to take advantage of our wonderful site to its fullest – discover new parts of Harewood they’ve never seen before and offer a timely moment for both fun and exploration, or more mindful calm and respite.

‘Our Open History programme continues our commitment to being open and transparent about Harewood’s past as part of bigger commitment to ensure Harewood is a place for everyone. We cannot change the past, but we can use it as a stark, unequivocal truth to build 
a fairer, equal future.’

Tickets for Harewood’s 2021 season are now on sale, with tickets for 17 May onwards being released as and when the government moves forwards with its roadmap.

For further press information on Harewood, please contact info@harewood.org

Download the full press release here.

Sue Sharpe: In memoriam

Sue Sharpe

Whilst places like Harewood are built in stunning surroundings, feature beautiful architecture and remain as awe-inspiring as they always have, there’s one thing that truly makes a place – its people.

Harewood is blessed with its volunteers and staff members, some who not only love Harewood but make everyone else love it to, and the Trust was particularly saddened this week to learn of the passing of one such person who had a gift to draw people into Harewood’s magic – Susan (Sue) Sharpe who sadly passed away at the end of January.

It’s fair to say that Sue led a fun and rather glamorous life. Her late husband was the former England cricketer Phil Sharpe, and she herself was an ‘Air Hostess’ (she’d never allow the term cabin crew) in the air industry’s hey day – a role where she could excel by combining her welcoming charm and witty personality in huge style with great aplomb.

Sue with VE teamA chance occurrence in 2007 bought her into Harewood’s fold. Whilst visiting the House as a potential venue for her daughter’s wedding, she was unable to see one of the rooms due to interviews taking place for House Steward positions. Having told her husband Phil, he remarked that the role would have been right up her street, to which Sue picked up the phone to ask if she was too late. Of course, she wasn’t too late, and even if she was it’s fairly certain she would have talked whoever answered the phone around – the rest is history.

For many Harewood Members and visitors Sue was such a recognisable figure and someone who was repeatedly mentioned in visitor comments with overwhelming warmth and thanks. Latterly she was often based in Harewood’s Old Kitchen, where not a soul could pass without Sue learning part of their life story intermingled with a totally effortless imparting of Harewood knowledge. Everyone left Sue’s presence not only feeling that they had learned something new, but also like they’d made a friend. Sue became renowned amongst the team for causing visitor congestion because she’d engaged so many people in conversation or because she’d started a free impromptu talk, but not a soul could’ve minded waiting as by the time they reached her she would soon envelop them with her warmth. Sue was also part of Harewood’s tour team – needless to say a short introduction to the House would be an hour and a half minimum.

Sue at Prince of Monaco eventSue didn’t just bring the House alive to general visitors either, she often helped with education projects (a true Jackanory) or at events (meeting the Prince of Monaco being a particular career highlight for her), she volunteered in several roles and whenever there was an opportunity to learn more or be involved she would grasp it.

The staff loved her too, and Sue loved them, taking a keen interest in everyone and never forgetting a soul. She had a way of getting away with things that no one else ever would – hiding a tea thermos under her chair, arguing a point without you even noticing, writing her Christmas cards whilst on duty but in a way that you’d think it was part of the visitor experience.

Her generosity knew no bounds too, not least with her time. Her time was her gift to everyone, and sharing a moment with Sue made you feel special. Harewood will be forever in her debt and she will be sorely missed. Our thoughts are with her family – daughter Catherine and nephew Fergus who himself now works for Harewood House Trust too – and all her dear friends.

Sue’s family have set up a Just Giving page, in thanks to St Gemma’s Hospice for the care and comfort they gave Sue.

Sue Sharpe worked at Harewood from 2007 to 2021.

With thanks to Jackie Gascoigne & Aileen Larsen for helping to compile this tribute, and the many who have sent their memories and condolences to the Trust.

Sue with VE team

In memory of Dame Fanny Waterman

Dame Fanny Waterman 1920–2020

Harewood is deeply saddened to hear of the news of the passing of Dame Fanny Waterman, who died peacefully in December having reached the age of 100. Dame Fanny leaves an incredible legacy, she was a true ‘force of nature’ in the world of classical music. Through the Leeds International Piano Competition, which she launched in 1961 with her husband Dr Geoffrey de Keyser and Marion Thorpe CBE (then Countess of Harewood), affectionately known worldwide as ‘The Leeds’, she helped launch the careers of many of the most talented pianists of our time.

David Lascelles, Earl of Harewood, remembers her fondly:

‘I’ve known Fanny Waterman, Dame Fanny, since I was a boy. She and my mother were close friends, they wrote highly successful piano tutor books together and Fanny was always very generous in acknowledging her central role in the early days of the Leeds International Piano Competition, ‘The Leeds’.

‘I was, briefly, Fanny’s pupil, one of the worst she ever had she confided later, which I suppose is some sort of a backhanded compliment.

‘Fanny was 100 when she died – of course she was, her determination and extraordinary fighting spirit could have no other outcome. She was an extraordinary woman, a true embodiment of that over-used expression ‘a force of nature’.

‘It has been a privilege to know her and Diane and I and the rest of my family join together to send our condolences and warmest wishes to her sons Robert and Paul and the rest of her family.’

21 December 2020

Our condolences go out to Dame Fanny’s family, and to all those whose lives she influenced with great positivity, affection and acclaim.

A full tribute can be read on The Leeds International Piano Competition website >>

Photo courtesy of the Leeds International Piano Competition, pictured: Dame Fanny Waterman, Benjamin Britten (composer and close friend of George Lascelles, 7th Earl of Harewood), and the then Countess of Harewood, musician Marion Thorpe.

Elaine Mitchener: Sweet Tooth

23 August marked the International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition. Harewood openly acknowledges its past, and to mark this anniversary we have commissioned a series of blog posts to explore what this means for Harewood and Leeds today.

In this blog, Elaine Mitchener – vocal and movement artist – reflects on her work Sweet Tooth, written using material from Harewood’s archives and inventories from Edwin Lascelles’ sugar plantations and the enslavement of people of colour.

‘They will remember that we were sold, but not that we were strong. They will remember that we were bought but not that we were brave.’

William Prescott 1937

Sweet Tooth is an experimental music theatre piece, which deals with the historical links between sugar and slavery using text, improvisation and movement, to stage a dramatic engagement with the brutal realities of slavery as revealed by the historical records of the sugar industry, and to reveal its contemporary echoes.

The work was premiered in November 2017 and commissioned by Bluecoat, Liverpool’s centre for the contemporary arts, in partnership with the Stuart Hall Foundation, London, and the International Slavery Museum. It was later broadcast on BBC Radio 3’s Hear and Now programme on 30 December 2017.

The work is divided into six chapters: 1 Universal slide – invocation; 2 Bound; 3 Scold’s Bridle; 4 Names; 5 Scramble; 6 The mill – invocation.

Sweet Tooth marks the culmination of five years of research into our love of sugar and the historical links between the UK (also Europe) sugar industry and the Transatlantic Slave Trade.

During this period, I researched in the archives of Harewood House in Leeds, which was built by 18th-century plantation owner Edwin Lascelles, and invited University of Southampton historian Prof Christer Petley, Senior Lecturer in History University of Southampton and an expert in the history of slavery in the Caribbean to be an historical consultant on the project.

Some of that material, such as inventories at Harewood, also those discovered in Jamaica by Petley of more than 2,000 enslaved Africans owned by Samuel Taylor, another 18th-century British sugar baron, provided the basis for the dramaturgy of Sweet Tooth.

Running in parallel with this historical research, an intensive period of artistic development culminated in 2016 in two residential workshops at the University of Southampton and Aldeburgh Music, during which I brought together a trio of experimental musicians – saxophonist Jason Yarde, percussionist Mark Sanders and multi-instrumentalist Sylvia Hallett – and Vietnamese-American choreographer Dam van Huynh as movement director, to collaborate on the production of Sweet Tooth.

For me, the challenge was how to present the material in a way that was true to the realities of slavery, without it feeling gratuitous or exploitative. Empathising with the material and improvising responses to it, the input of the musicians and choreographer was crucial to this process.

Watch Sweet Tooth >>

Elaine’s thoughts on Sweet Tooth

I was born in the East End of London to parents who’d migrated to the UK from Jamaica in the 1960s. Like many Black British people, my ancestry includes enslaved Africans, sold by Africans to British traders to work on sugar plantations in the Caribbean and Brazil. Sweet Tooth is my attempt to make sense of that fact, and to honour the memory of my ancestors who were forced to live and work in appalling conditions in order to satisfy our desire for sugar.

Sweet Tooth is a deeply personal project, not only about Black history, but as an important chapter of World history and the pivotal role Black people have played in shaping it. Slavery is not just a traumatic episode that happened 400 years ago, something that we can now view dispassionately through a historical lens. Modern day slavery is a reality that continues to afflict millions of people across the world. The present-day legacy of slavery’s historical trauma cannot be underestimated.

Sweet Tooth was supported with public funding from Arts Council England. Commissioned by Bluecoat in partnership with the Stuart Hall Foundation and the International Slavery Museum with further support from PRSF Open Fund, Edge Hill University, Centre 151, John Hansard Gallery, Southampton and St George’s Bloomsbury. Photos © Brian Roberts.

Olivia Wyatt: Power. Whiteness. Resistance. Challenging the ‘facts’ of the archive

23 August marked the International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition. Harewood openly acknowledges its past, and to mark this anniversary we have commissioned a series of blog posts to explore what this means for Harewood and Leeds today.

In this blog, Olivia Wyatt – researcher and Harewood volunteer – challenges the ‘facts’ of the archive.

Image: ‘Nat Turner and his confederates in conference’, 1831 published 1863. Whilst this image is not associated with the Tobago conspiracy (1801), it does convey the atmosphere surrounding it.

Power. Whiteness. Resistance. Challenging the ‘facts’ of the archive.

‘The report of the Committee,’ wrote John Robley, Lord Harewood’s attorney for Tobago, ‘I think your Lordship will find highly interesting & satisfactory’. This letter referred to a slave conspiracy in Tobago which was foiled in December 1801. One of the two principal conspirators, Anthony, belonged to the Lascelles-owned Mesopotamia plantation. The committee of which Robley wrote was convened to investigate the conspiracy, and they concluded that a few ‘artful’ individuals intended to lead intoxicated ‘ignorant negroes’ into open rebellion. Whether or not the rebels agreed with this summary of their conspiracy is a mystery; therefore how can we interpret the resistance of enslaved people when we can only conceive of it through the lens of their oppressor?

This is why Michel-Rolph Trouillot wrote of the need to analyse the power behind the process of historical production, which silences some narratives and empowers others. Those who are not considered ‘victors’ are often unable to present their perspectives in the historical material. This helps explain why Orlando Patterson advocated for historians to ‘stop defining slavery through the experiences of slaves’. Rather, slavery should be understood as a system of social death which attempted to use violence to alienate and dehumanise Black people for profit. Examinations of resistance are therefore, perhaps, as Vincent Brown posits, more useful than attempts to reconstruct the condition of slavery. The efforts of enslaved people to reshape their world reveal their politics, their dreams, and their dissatisfaction with their environment. Far from rendering enslaved people as docile and unfeeling, examinations of resistance could give them the voice they were denied. Nonetheless, this task becomes difficult when their resistance is presented through the mediums of their oppressors. I will therefore dissect one of the portrayals of Anthony in the archive, to show that there are ways to look beyond the oppressors’ attempts to further subordinate enslaved people through their control of the narrative.

Image of part of the Witness Statements from the Trial of Anthony, Fortune, Dublin, Pompey and Frank belonging to Mesopotamia (1802). Photograph taken by the author.

Nearly 200 Black people and some free-coloureds were arrested and interrogated, and Anthony pleaded not guilty during his trial. According to witness testimonies, the plan was to ‘put to Death all Whites’ but ‘preserve the White Women for their Wives’. This desire to form intimate and legal bonds with White women could suggest that the conspirators glorified Whiteness. The ‘negro’ embodied backwardness; a ‘heathenish’ and ‘dangerous kind of people’, according to the Barbados slave code. Not only was Blackness therefore presented as undesirable and inhuman; but, as Stuart Hall posited, Black people experienced themselves as the ‘Other’. Their being was in conflict with their inclination to conform to the norm and improve their standing through the main medium of power in the Caribbean: Whiteness. Whiteness became a tool of power for many Black people because it enabled them to escape the ‘trappings’ of Blackness. In order to elevate his status, as Frantz Fanon illustrated, the Black man dons a ‘white mask’ and ‘becomes whiter as he renounces his blackness, his jungle’. Marriage to a White woman would improve Anthony’s status, but in a society which was supposed to be rid of White people in order to ensure slavery’s demise, surely Whiteness would no longer possess such power? This could instead reveal how ingrained the desire for Whiteness was. It suggests that Anthony’s resistance to slavery was not necessarily resistance to White supremacy because it still positioned Whiteness as the ideal. Such beliefs fuelled the degradation of Blackness and upheld the racial hierarchy which governed the Caribbean; a hierarchy which, with its intersections with gender, positioned dark-skinned Black women at the bottom. The conspirators’ positioning of White women as the prize for their resistance demonstrates that when Black men resisted oppression, they did not necessarily resist for all.

Yet this is not the only interpretation which can be made. This supposed desire also capitalised on White men’s fears of Black men’s sexuality and the need to protect ‘their’ women and White purity. Could these witness testimonies therefore reflect these fears, instead of the conspirators’ internalised anti-Blackness? Torture and other extreme methods were undoubtedly used to extract information from the prisoners and, as K O Laurence admitted, this could make their accounts suspect. The governing council also declared martial law and the military conducted many of the interrogations. Indeed, the ruthlessness with which the Brigadier managed the situation encouraged the council to demand that the conspirators receive a trial. The objective to kill the White inhabitants often emerged in the testimonies, but the desire to save the White women appeared less so. This could indicate that this desire was confined to the principal conspirators, though it is also plausible that this was a dubious claim. Indeed, the other chief conspirator, Roger of Belvedere, questioned whether he ‘was present when this plan was settled’, presumably because it was unbeknownst to him. Given the conditions under which some witnesses were interrogated, the fact that Roger challenged this claim casts further doubt on the testimonies. If witnesses had been pressured to testify about a threat to White women, this would have further demonised the principal conspirators. Indeed, the council stressed their desire to make examples of only the leaders. The committee’s report was therefore characterised by disdain for the ‘manipulative’ conspirators who were ungrateful for the ‘luxuries of life’ which they had been granted as ‘principle people on the estates’.

We must therefore question the reliability of these testimonies and whether they suit the council’s pre-established agenda. As Saidiya Hartman has done, we must press at the limits of the archive and imagine what could have been in order to challenge what seemingly was. To speculate about which interpretation could be the ‘truth’ is to undermine what I set out to demonstrate. The multiple possibilities of one line in one source allow us to question the power behind the written word. We must also strategise how to exhibit this complexity within museums. The archive alone is not enough to represent marginalised people; though perhaps re-imagination, as evidenced by my second interpretation, is one way forward.

Olivia Wyatt, 2020

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