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Zoë Hughes

Staying Creative with artist Juli Bolaños-Durman

“By slowing down, going back to basics and making something with our hands like our ancestors did to survive…”

What are you working on during lockdown?

When the lockdown happened, I found myself really stressed listening to the uncertainty of it all in the news, so I decided that for my mental health I would turn them off and started to draw and colour. For me, this is an activity that I have enjoyed since I can remember, and thanks to my studio practice, I have made it a ritual that allows my nervous system to calm myself, self-regulate from a space of hope and joy; now more than ever.  But when I started to share these exercises on my social media, I realised my audience responded to these and thought to myself how I could support an international community from my perspective. This is how #StayCreative with Juli was born, fostering community at heart by focusing our energy on what we CAN control and that is our actions and the blank piece of paper in front of us. These are a series of free activities such as illustrations for you to trace, download or print and make 3D sculptures using materials from your recycle bin. I have put together some videos for the audience to join me in staying creative and tapping into this powerful tool. Find out more at www.julibd.com/staycreative

Also, I have been strategizing on how I can use this time to develop a new line under my studio practice umbrella that could give me more flexibility working from home, instead of my usual glass sculptures that need specific specialised machinery, studio space and team-work. Here is where drawing comes into again. I want to continue to push forward my illustration by promoting more pattern making projects, wallpaper design and illustrate short stories for kids focusing on themes of resilience, vulnerability and creativity during uncertain times. Hopefully, this will bring in new projects and clients while indirectly promoting my overall creative practice helping to weather the storm. By focusing my energies on activities that give me hope and not being run over by the fear of it all. But most importantly, fostering more community engagement, the value of non-formal education and how we can use creativity as a vehicle for innovation.

What is inspiring you at the moment?

This pandemic has reinforced my curiosity and methodology to be even more resilient and resourceful, using what we do have around us working from home and having a positive contribution. This is an opportunity that invites us to see things from a different perspective and how we can give a second chance to waste material to become a symbol of revival and authenticity. 

Also, watching how the community has come together to support one another and the courageous task the essential workers have taken on. I want to be a part of a caring community and contribute from my perspective for a better system moving forward.

How might craft help us rebuild a better future?

In a world where we can no longer compete with machines, our education systems need to be modified from teaching facts to thinking with our hands. By promoting a persistent spirit of inquiry and resilience, guiding us into adapting to these uncertain times and building a more just world filled with beauty for everyone to appreciate. Craft is one of these tools which must be put at the forefront and invested in.

Every time we make/mend something, it is a poetic act of rebellion, a challenge to our current consumer habits and the status quo; now more poignant than ever. By slowing down, going back to basics and making something with our hands like our ancestors did to survive. By connecting to this visceral bond between the maker/ material and how this playful methodology is a tool to foster joy; a powerful life-force that can only be fostered within ourselves to share and create a better world.

#StayCreative at home, and download Juli’s resources below

– Juli Bolaños-Durman, May 2020

Harewood’s Sustainability Story: The Biomass Project

Biomass is fuel that is developed from organic materials, a renewable and sustainable source of energy. Harewood House and the Courtyard are heated by a biomass boiler.

We have over 800 acres of woodland on the Harewood Estate. Many areas are Ancient Scheduled Woodland Sites and some sit within our Registered Park and & Gardens. Nearly all areas are viewable from public rights of way and we have a wealth of wildlife that make our forests their home. So our woodland operations need to work sensitively within these constraints and are now geared towards protecting and enhancing the landscape for amenity and biodiversity value.

We conduct necessary thinning of our woodlands on a regular basis to help improve the timber stocks and the values we are trying to protect. Historically we have sent felled timber off to merchants round the country, but we now use it on site within our biomass plants to provide renewable heat for Harewood House and the Courtyard, as well as the Estate’s commercial office spaces, 10 holiday cottages and 15 residential properties. It’s a model of what a renewable energy district heating system of the future might look like.

Once the trees are felled the timber is taken back to the Walled Garden, stacked and left to dry to reduce the moisture content to make it suitable for burning within the biomass plant. Around 8 months later (depending on the weather!) the timber is dry enough to chip and we hire in a Diomante chipper, an amazing piece of kit which picks whole tree stems on the one side, feeds it through a chipper and produces the chip out the other side which is loaded directly into a wagon. The chipper can process up to 50 tonnes per hour!


With the chip created, we take it back to our chip store, where it is unloaded and spread out to aid further drying. We try to keep at least 6 months of chip in stock. Once it’s down to the correct moisture content (30-35%) it can be used in the boilers. We fill up each boilers chip store once a week and it then feeds into the boilers automatically. The feed store has a slowly vibrating floor that moves the chip from front to back to ensure a steady supply of chip to the boiler.


The main boiler at the time of installation was one of the largest in Yorkshire. It burns the chip at temperatures of up to 900°c which then heats the water. It’s incredibly efficient, with hardly any waste material produced, usually just a couple of ash buckets per week. From the storage tanks, which hold around a 24-hour supply, the hot water then goes into the district piping network and out to all the properties that are connected in.

As well as being a reason to reinvigorate our woodland operations, the biomass plants are a great source of renewable energy and have helped us reduce our carbon footprint as well as those of our tenants by association. Compared to an oil system we are saving over 440 tonnes of CO2 each year – if you also factor in the savings by processing the timber on site rather than transporting them to merchants elsewhere the total reaches almost 650 tonnes of CO2 saved each year. That’s roughly equivalent to 1,000 people taking return flights from London to New York or what 25 families would average during a whole year.

We’ve been working with the Leeds Climate Commission, Circular Yorkshire and Sustainable Arts in Leeds to share our story so others can build from our success.

Why craft matters now more than ever by Hugo Macdonald

Why Craft Matters, Harewood House

WHO, WHAT, WHERE, WHEN by Anthony Burrill, Picture Credit – Charlotte Graham

“As we’ve dropped our public lives we’ve picked up tools in private and started baking, gardening, drawing, sewing, knitting, fixing and decorating in earnest”

Anyone who visited Harewood last year during the first Harewood Biennial couldn’t fail to have noticed graphic artist Anthony Burrill’s striking commission standing proud outside the entrance façade to the house. It became a poster for the biennial itself, travelling far and wide across the web and world. It divided opinion and provoked much discussion. This was a conscious act on our part, because it announced on its four sides four truths about the vital relationship between people and craft: we are who make; we are what we make; we are how we make; we are when we make.

I have frequently returned to these statements over the year since we opened the biennial, and more keenly over the last two months. Our first biennial introduced questions around craft: principally why it matters to people, today. You barely need scratch the surface of social media at the moment to see that it clearly does matter. Up and down the country and around the world, as we’ve dropped our public lives we’ve picked up tools in private and started baking, gardening, drawing, sewing, knitting, fixing and decorating in earnest. It is wonderful to see, and communities have emerged overnight, joined (albeit digitally for the time being) by a common desire to make.

Harewood might currently be closed, but we are busy planning our second biennial, which will open in March 2021. It coincides with the 250th anniversary of Harewood – a fitting coincidence and celebration of survival, not just after this difficult year, but over decades and centuries, too. 250 years is quarter of a millennium – isn’t it astonishing that the house has been kept alive and in pristine condition for such a period of history? It is people that have kept Harewood thriving; people using craft knowledge and skills to clean and polish, mend and repair. There is great pleasure to be found in these simple, timeless acts as we are all rediscovering in our own homes. Cleaning books are selling in their millions.

Useful Beautiful

If Chairs Could Talk by Yinka Ilori

I’m pretty sure the surge in craft that we are witnessing is not just about distraction, or filling time, or even learning new hobbies just to feel we are achieving. As Anthony’s piece declaimed in four succinct statements: making makes us feel alive. Faced with our current crisis, life-affirming skills and activities are fundamentally reassuring. I think the baking and planting, the cleaning, the quilting and mending are more than fads or lifestyle choices. They are primal responses, too. They say to me quite clearly that in an era when so much of our lives are governed by intangible technology and software, and particularly in times of crisis and uncertainty, we are capable still. We have basic skills for survival in our minds and hands and it feels good to practice them.

Hugo Macdonald, May 2020

Princess Mary: A re-imagined Wedding Dress

Over the past few months, our Collections & Engagement teams have been working on something very special, to bring a little piece of Harewood’s Royal history to life.

HRH Princess Mary was the only daughter of King George V and Queen Mary. She lived at Harewood House from 1930 – 1965, following her marriage into the Lascelles family in 1922. Princess Mary sparks much interest with our visitors; commonly known as the ‘Yorkshire Princess’, she was a much loved royal figure both locally and nationally.

Today, Harewood House Trust cares for her archive, which includes a lifetime’s worth of letters, diaries and personal papers, as well as some of her outfits, including her beautiful wedding dress. Whilst the dress is now too fragile to be put out on display, the Harewood team has been working over the last few months to find a new way for the dress to be seen.

Princess Mary’s Wedding Dress: An Introduction

Princess Mary’s wedding dress was made by the English fashion house, Reville of London. It consisted of an underdress woven with silver thread that was covered by a sheer silk marquisette embellished with a rose-trellis design in crystal beads and seed pearls. The long silk train was woven using white and silver thread at Braintree silk mills, Essex. It was embroidered with a pattern of emblematic flowers of the British Empire, including the English rose, the Welsh daffodil, the Canadian maple and the New Zealand fern, enhanced by Indian lotus flowers embroidered in silver and gold metal thread.

The train was originally edged with Honiton lace, a gift from Queen Mary that was later removed for use by other royal brides.

Due to the fragile condition of the fabric, it is sadly now no longer possible to keep the wedding dress on display. So instead, we have brought the dress back to life, through the art of costume design, working with TV and film costume designer Rosalind Ebbutt, who has worked on productions such as Victoria and Downton Abbey.

A re-imagined dress

Approaching the project in much the same way that she would produce period costume for TV or film, Rosalind began the process of creating her interpretation of Mary’s dress with research. Working alongside the Collections Team, Rosalind looked in great detail at its original design, inspecting both the real dress as well as reviewing photographs and historic descriptions; it was important to determine the original cut, size and the types of fabrics used, in addition to their original colours.

Rosalind then worked with dressmaker Amanda Brennan to finalise a design that incorporated her research, as well as source appropriate fabric and embellishments. Once found, the dress was then assembled, with Amanda working straight onto a mannequin.

The fabric hunt commences

Rosalind and Amanda worked together to match the patterns and fabric to the real wedding dress

The dress design is sketched out

The dress begins to take shape

Great attention to detail was taken throughout project

Careful consideration was given to sourcing intricate pieces to create the headdress and jewellery

The finished gown captures the elegant design and visual splendour of the historic original, offering a glimpse into what Mary’s dress might have looked like in 1922.

The completed dress: re-imagined from the original wedding dress worn by Princess Mary in 1922.

You will be able to see this beautiful recreation in the Servant’s Hall, Below Stairs at Harewood, just as soon as we are re-opened to the public.

With special thanks to:

Rosalind Ebbutt, Costume Designer
Amanda Brennan, Dressmaker
James Hare, for the provision of the satin to create the train for this dress