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Behind the Scenes

Archiving the collection of linen at Harewood

Linen at Harewood House

Linen at Harewood House

Over the years as a working family home, Harewood House and its inhabitants amassed a significant collection of table and bed linen, used to dress both public and private spaces for occasions of every kind.

Over the past three months, a project to document and re-house this collection, which consists of table cloths, placemats, napkins, bed sheets and pillowcases, from the humble to the highly decorative, has taken place.

Trust volunteers Avril and John have worked methodically to create an inventory that describes in detail the fabric and patterns of the mainly white and ivory linens, measuring each item and highlighting any identifying marks such as the family crest or the Garter Knights coat of arms, some of which date back to the 1930s. Once listed and photographed, each piece was then carefully packed and wrapped in Tyvek (a lightweight, water resistant yet breathable material) to prevent dust or pest infiltration. Finally, each bundle and box was labelled and its storage location recorded.

“We’ve had a fascinating time working on this project,” said Avril, who has been volunteering with Harewood House Trust for many years. “It was interesting to note the patterns and to see that decoration was quite seasonal, maybe with flowers and fruit for one time of the year and other foliage for different times of the year. Some of the tablecloths stretch over fifty metres.”

Rebecca Burton, Assistant Curator and Archivist, added: “During the documentation process, the volunteers discovered beautifully embroidered and hand-finished items that resonate particularly well with our current exhibition Useful/Beautiful: Why Craft Matters, particularly the contemporary work on display in Princess Mary’s Dressing Room by the studio Jenny King Embroidery. Some particularly beautiful placements decorated with Irish embroidery (the technique employed by Jenny King) discovered during the project are currently on display in that room.”

A communication from the 6th Earl to Princess Mary in January 1922 says;

“I hear very privately that N. Ireland is to give us linen [for a wedding present] and have asked whether it should be embroidered or not. They have been told not. I am glad as it is a bore to wake up with a coronet impressed on one’s cheek!”

Useful/Beautiful: Why Craft Matters continues in the House until 1 September 2019.

Nurturing students through volunteering

Whilst we celebrated National Volunteer Week last week, one of the most positive stories to come out of this year is that for the first time we welcomed four students from the University of Leeds, who then went on to gain full time employment at Harewood.

Students Lucy, Rachel, Emma and Hannah all came to Harewood for different reasons. They are now fully employed members of the Visitor Experience team for the season and we are delighted to have them on board and with such knowledge of Harewood already.

Lucy Bowley studied Fine Art at the University of Leeds. She joined us after a university trip to Harewood. She started as a Room Steward.
“I volunteered in the house. I loved chatting to visitors from around the world and sharing the interesting facts about each room. I’m now a Visitor Experience Team Member.”

Rachel Tonks was on her third year of studying Fine Art with History of Art, when she started as a volunteer. She explains that being a volunteer at Harewood House was a good way for her to join her interest for Country Houses and Heritage with her job, while learning more about it.
“I really enjoyed having the opportunity to learn in detail about the house and it felt good to be a part of giving visitors an experience of Harewood that was meaningful and interactive.”

Emma Hunt Shelley is a Classics student who came as a volunteer Room Steward over Christmas.
“I would encourage everyone to volunteer because I really feel that it gave me a once in a lifetime opportunity to work in a place like Harewood and continues to do so every day that I go into work!”

Hannah Lee Hargreaves was in her last year at the University of Leeds when she attended a volunteer open day at Harewood.
“I fell in love with the place, and became a volunteer Room Steward over the Christmas period, allowing me to learn more about the history of the house and the estate. “

These students are a good example of how being a volunteer can lead to a job. We are continually looking for new faces to join our team, you can find out more information online

Re-imagining Rugs – a short film

Together with the Crafts Council, we co-produced a series of short films about our current exhibition, Useful/Beautiful: Why Craft Matters. Here’s the second in the series.

Rugs made from hand-dyed locally sourced wool, surplus from the carpet trade, dyed with natural matter from Harewood, oh and created by an artisan local rug maker…

For the first Harewood Biennial, designer Max Lamb – known for his experimental and imaginative use of materials – gathered 50kg of vegetation from around Harewood. The random surface patterns and unusual shapes contrast with the classical lines of the Yellow Drawing Room, originally design by Robert Adam.

Tell us what you think of this short film…


See for yourself behind the scenes at our Useful/Beautiful exhibition

Is craft a product or a process? Is it always something handmade?

A cohort of contemporary makers challenge preconceptions about what the word means today and the role craft can play in shaping culture, identity and society at a new craft biennial in Yorkshire, called ‘Useful/Beautiful: Why Craft Matters’. Works by bookbinder Kate Holland, embroiderer Jenny King, and furniture designers Max Lamb and Yinka Ilori sit alongside historic works by Thomas Chippendale and Robert Adam inside Harewood House, a Georgian manor near Leeds.

In this film – co-produced by Crafts magazine, the Crafts Council and Harewood House – we meet some of the makers and curators, who together aim to spark debate.

‘Useful/Beautiful: Why Craft Matters’ runs until 1 September 2019 biennial.harewood.org

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.