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Behind the Scenes

5 questions with Lisa Ward bringing Classic Ibiza to Harewood

Classic Ibiza at Harewood House, Leeds, YorkshireAhead of a busy summer season of events at Harewood, we spent some time with Lisa Ward, Director of Revival Productions and one of the main organisers of Classic Ibiza outdoor events.

What was the inspiration around Classic Ibiza?
I got into house music when I was at university in Manchester in the late ‘80s and then worked for a company that organised classical concerts at stately homes across the country. The inspiration for Classic Ibiza came from marrying my love of dance music with my experience of putting on more traditional concerts to produce something fresh and exciting.

What makes Classic Ibiza such a different experience to other outdoor events?
It’s the full Classic Ibiza package. Firstly, you’ve got the juxtaposition of listening to some truly iconic house tracks, performed by a 32-piece orchestra, in the beautiful grounds of Harewood House. Secondly, it’s the community feeling that permeates all our concerts. This comes from how our amazing artists interact with the audience and the energy they give back. Unlike many other outdoor concerts, we also allow our audience to bring their own food and drink on site, which we find adds to the feel-good vibe.

What is your role?
As Director of Revival Productions, organisers of Classic Ibiza, my role encompasses everything from planning and promotion, to being a general dog’s body on site. As they say, variety is the spice of life!

What three things do you love about your job?
The first would definitely be doing something that brings so much joy to so many people. I get a massive kick from going back-stage at our shows and seeing a sea of smiling faces looking back at me. Secondly, would be working with some amazingly talented musicians. The Urban Soul Orchestra have performed with some of the greats of dance music, including Groove Armada and Nightmares on Wax. I never thought I’d get that opportunity. Finally, working with friends and family. I’m great friends with Katharine Brindley who heads up Revival Productions with me and my family are also involved in the shows. We are a pretty tight-knit bunch!

Is there anything exciting you can reveal about this year’s event at Harewood House?
Ooh, that would be telling… What I can say is that we will be performing eleven new tracks this year and one of them will definitely burn the house down. Not literally, I hasten to add! At Easter, people can also vote for their favourite tunes to be added to the set – check out our Facebook page nearer the time for further information on this.

Maybe not as exciting, but equally as important, we have also put a series of measures in place at this year’s show to ensure that we are prepared for any challenges that the weather might throw at us. You can find out more by reading this short article.

To book tickets for Classic Ibiza this July, go online.

The making of the rugs…

UsefulBeautifulTrendyTuftMichaelSmithSeven rugs cover the once bare floor of The Yellow Drawing Room at Harewood, designed and hand-dyed on surplus wool from the carpet industry by artist Max Lamb, inspired and created from the trees and foliage of Harewood itself…and bespoke tufted by Yorkshire-based business Trendy Tuft, just down the road from Harewood.

Here’s an insight into the whole process from Michael Smith, Trendy Tuft owner and director.

Q. How did you start working in the bespoke rug business?
After completing a Textile Technology degree course I decided that I would like to go into manufacturing so set up in my parents’ garage with a hand tufting gun. I have then grown the business over the past 35 years to where we are now. We are a totally unique business in the UK employing manufacturing techniques which are bespoke to us.

Q. What do you love about your job?
I love to see the designers’ vision come to fruition, seeing their drawing being made up full scale is a buzz and after 35 years still very fulfilling.

Q. How do you work with artists and designers to create their vision?
Designers send in their artwork and colour pallet, we match the colours in yarn form and then after approval we manufacture the rug.

Q. This wasn’t the first time you have worked with Max Lamb, can you tell more?
Max is a very enthusiastic and creative designer, we have made rugs for him before in similar styles using the space-dyed yarns, but this is the first time we have used natural vegetable dyes.

Q. What was particularly interesting about this project?
The method of dyeing that Max employed using material collected from around the Harewood estate to create the amazing colours  tell a very interesting story. This created random patterns and colour combinations from the space dyed yarn and this was truly amazing to see. We didn’t know what the final rug would look like.

Q. And what were the challenges?

Making rugs is always a challenge, we had limited amounts of yarn in each colour so there was no room for miscalculation as we knew that if we ran out that was it!

Q. How does it feel to see the work in place at Harewood House?
It makes us all very proud to see the work exhibited in the beautiful Harewood House, and knowing that these seven rugs are truly unique and the only ones like it in the world, I hope that they will be appreciated by all the people who come through the exhibition.

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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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!

5 Minutes with award-winning Firenza Flowers

FirenzaFlowersAs part of our Christmas season, we are going behind the scenes with those who have helped ‘create’ Christmas at Harewood. Fiona Pickles from Firenza Flowers answers five questions here:

Where does your passion for flowers ‘stem’ from?
My love of gardening is where it all started. I adored working in my first garden, to the point of obsession! I transformed a small patch of a farmer’s field into a beautiful garden, with a wide variety of trees, shrubs and flowers. I became familiar with a huge variety of plants and flowers, their Latin names and most importantly their seasonality.

How and when did you begin your career in floral decoration/art?
I studied Print and had a good and enjoyable career in the printing industry, but I walked away from that in 2005 to retrain as a florist in London, then set the business up (named after my maternal grandmother Florence, known to all as Flo) I became a very successful wedding florist but gradually changed direction and focus, to utterly embrace my love of the landscape and seasons. I now enjoy creating large, striking designs and structures.

Where does your vision come from and how does it develop?
Everything I do is totally influenced by my surroundings and where I am working. I usually have a rough plan of the overall look and feel of what I am about to create, but the actual shape and style only comes as I work on each piece, they are totally dependent on the shape of each branch, flower, leaf and root that I use, meaning that every single thing I create is a one-off, never to be recreated or reproduced, no matter how hard anyone tries!

What skills are needed to create your designs?
I do have an ability to know what shapes are needed where, to elevate a design from something predictable and ‘samey’ to something totally striking, unexpected and dramatic. I also seem to be considering more engineering type issues as well as the obvious floristry considerations; weight, balance, attachments and fixings, which i actually relish. Fixings and stability are huge considerations, I am rather obsessed with hardware shops bizarrely! I try to work without floral foam too, so the main consideration in any design is ensuring everything that needs it has a water source. This is not always straightforward and I offer workshops and classes to other florists keen to understand this way of thinking.

How have you adapted to this changing world of online?
Having established a business pre-social media, I can recognise and appreciate the value of social media – believe me, it is so much easier, more pleasant, less times consuming and more focused to post an image on instagram with good photography and considered hashtags than driving a three hour round trip to attend a networking meeting, during which I might meet one person who may want flowers at some point in their life! I utterly embrace the effectiveness of social media and have met many fabulous people from around the world through it. If you have a business and want to find your ‘tribe’, you HAVE to make time for social media.

Firenza Flowers has created two large-scale wreath installations in the Terrace Gardens of Harewood. Visitors can see these as part of the Christmas experience.

Fiona is hosting a full day Stately Botanicals workshop, which includes a private, tailormade tour of the festively dressed House, making a bespoke wreath and a Festive Afternoon Tea.