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Behind the Scenes

Hearing the Journey to Seeds of Hope

‘Seeds of Hope’ sound designers Buffalo give us an insight into their approach to this special project

We were delighted to be asked to collaborate with Lord Whitney again, having previously worked with them on The Wood Beneath The World at Leeds Town Hall. The themes of self-sufficiency, resilience, healing and hope really appealed to us.

We knew that getting the tone of the piece right was crucial. We wanted to convey the solemn context and to encourage reflection, but we were also keenly aware to avoid sentimentality. The project needed to communicate gratitude and optimism at its core.

We were given access to the Lord Whitney research, which meant that we could immerse ourselves in the stories of the time, some specific to Harewood and the surrounding area, some not. We discussed the intended narrative and had a chance to look through some of writer David Allison’s work to get a sense of where the characters would fit in and how much of the sound needed to link to them and convey their stories.

It quickly became clear to us that the project required natural, acoustic sounds as it was focused so firmly on the regenerative powers of the natural world – the gardens as a provider and place of healing. We decided early on that the two rooms of The Bothy should be treated differently to the outside spaces. Inside, we looked at manipulating ‘found’ sounds. We determined that the music didn’t need to ‘tell a story’, as John the Bothy Boy’s journal would do this. Instead, we created an abstract, ambient soundscape that would give visitors a sense of time being fluid, that your senses had been disrupted and you are hearing echoes of the past in the present.

We wanted to convey a sense of the slow, almost imperceptible growth of plants over time and have this interlink with repetitive sounds of human activity across the years. You’ll hear the drag of garden tools on stone, the knock of crock pots, what could be the gentle unfurling of leaves and the creak of expanding wood. In the Head Gardener’s office you hear the echo of footsteps and are introduced to the beautiful ‘The World Is Waiting for The Sunrise’ (music by Ernest Seitz, lyrics by Gene Lockhart) in the form of a distant tuneful whistle.

In the Walled Garden you come to the poignant Seeds of Hope sunflower installation in the Glasshouses, representing the 1,269 soldiers who were cared for at Harewood House when it was an auxiliary hospital. We introduced melody and instrumental sounds, attempting to convey the dignity, healing and hope that we felt the sunflowers represent. We used the cello to introduce parts of the melody from ‘The World Is Waiting For The Sunrise’ and, drawing on our research again, this time from a piece in the Harewood Parish magazine, which notes how the soldiers would enjoy watching the sunflowers turn, we recorded cello tuning keys, which creak as they tighten the strings, to represent this poignant image. You also hear a series of overlapping, high-pitched tones that feature in all the pieces but are most prominent here.

The First World War was the first truly industrial war and little thought had been given to the effect of new technologies on the human ear drum. As a result, many soldiers suffered at least some degree of immediate hearing loss. This led to sergeants using high pitched whistles as a method of communicating with their charges as this was the only sound that they could all hear. The whistling tones that you’ll hear are intended to call back to the soldiers’ time on the front line and to recognise that, beyond the injuries obvious to the eye, they suffered a multitude of less obvious physical and mental injuries that would often stay with them long after their recuperation.

After tracing the paths through the Peace Meadow you come to the Orchard, where our final piece ties together the three pieces. Again you hear the cello, this time backed by repeated, metronomic piano chords, as it moves from abstraction to the slow, poignant and now complete melody of ‘The World Is Waiting For The Sunrise’, albeit with an altered time signature, intended to convey a sense of solemn reflection and finally cautious, peaceful optimism.

Listen to the tracks

Find out more about Buffalo

An electric new ride

Two new electric shuttles are now transporting hundreds of visitors around Harewood, in another step forward towards the charity’s environmental goals.

The new buses have been specially commissioned and built bespoke, to adapt to the needs of Harewood, including the ability to navigate the steep inclines down to the Lake and to accommodate wheelchairs, for which they have a special ramp. Doors and windows provide shelter from the inclement Yorkshire weather (the previous shuttles were more like golf buggies) and users have been delighted by the quiet where they can hear more from their driver as part of a much more luxurious trip than ever before.

The modern, silent buses can seat seven people, and six people when a wheelchair is on board. Charged each evening, they can then run effectively, and more efficiently than the previous shuttles, for the duration of the day, picking visitors up from 11am and continuing right thorough until the last shuttles at 5pm.

You might not know, but the majority of the shuttles are run by a team of Harewood volunteers, including Martin and Tim, who provide a wealth of information and good Yorkshire character to visitors needing a lift from the Courtyard to the House and even up to the entry archway.

The short film features Martin, our longest standard volunteer of 20 years! Spot the the kids in shorts on their scooters despite the rain.

All Hail the Kale – the Harewood Kitchen Garden

Kale Walled GardenMaria Mahon, Kitchen Gardener, Harewood House

Walk around the walled garden today and you’ll see some wonderful examples of heritage kale growing in our vegetable beds.

Check out the glorious display of contrasting colours and textures, ranging from the slender, dark green blistered leaves of ‘Nero di Toscana (1792)’, a variety which reaches over 5ft tall and is sometimes referred to as ‘Black Kale’; to the voluptuous, mid-green, densely curled leaves of the ‘Dwarf Green Curled (1779)’ which, as the name suggests, is a shorter variety reaching just 2ft high.

As part of Seeds of Hope, reimagining the Walled Garden 100 years ago, we have brought the kale on early so visitors can see, hear and read about all this super food.

Kale would have been a dominant feature in the Brassica beds of 1918. It has many virtues and fits with the pressing need at that time for reliable, prolific and nutritious crops. It has gained momentum as a super food over the past few years, one reason being that it contains six times more calcium and seven times more vitamin A than an average portion of broccoli.

Gardeners would have found it easy to cultivate, as it tolerates relatively poor soils and doesn’t suffer quite so much from all the usual pests and diseases which can ruin a crop of many of the others in the Brassica family. And it is generally a very hardy plant, with many varieties able to withstand a hard winter frost. Indeed, kale contains its own ‘anti-freeze’, which actually makes the leaves taste much sweeter after a frost; Brussel sprouts share this quality too.

Whilst cultivating this latest version in the Walled Garden, it has become clear that our much-loved green vegetable can be grown practically all-year-round, which would have made it ideal during the wartime. Its cut-and-come-again ability is just another boost to its super power crop and by picking a few leaves from the bottom of each plant, from several plants at a time, it can provide a constant supply of fresh greens for the dinner table for many months. New leaves from the top of the plant just keep growing, leaving  a large, thick green stem at the end of its productive life. Depending on the variety and the harvesting, one kale plant can last anything from 3-6 months, making it a wartime staple.

Steamed, fried, softened in butter, there are some wonderfully inventive and tasty kale recipes, some of our favourite links are below. The kale will continue to look good in the garden for the next few months as we continue to cultivate and plant.

Kale and chickpea curry recipe

Kale recipes

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