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Harewood House Shortlisted for Historic Houses Garden of the Year Award

Terrace Garden. Harewood House,Yorkshire, UK. Early Autumn, September 2015.

 

The beautiful and diverse gardens of Harewood House have been shortlisted for the prestigious Garden of the Year Award from Historic Houses, sponsored by world-famous auction house Christie’s.””

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Decided by a public vote, the Award recognises the importance of some of the country’s most spectacular gardens with outstanding horticultural and public appeal. The 100 acres of gardens at Harewood include the formal, intricately designed Italian parterre on the Terrace; the Himalayan Garden that takes visitors to mountains on the other side of the world; the naturalistic planting of the lakeside woodlands; and the inviting Walled Garden, used now to grow produce and for innovative, immersive exhibitions.

Ben Cowell, Historic Houses Director General, comments:

“We are a nation of garden lovers. The experience of lockdown has only made us appreciate the wonders of the garden even more. This is true whether we are lucky enough to tend a garden of our own, or simply enjoy visiting professionally maintained gardens to appreciate the work of talented gardening teams.

“Every year, we hold a vote in a competition to find the UK’s greatest garden. The eight gardens in our shortlist represent the very finest gardens open to the public across the country.

We are proud to have run the Garden of the Year award annually since 1984 with the support of Christie’s. Every year the race to the title is hard-fought, and this year’s shortlist is no exception. Please do cast your vote, and show your support for these wonderful gardens and the talented gardeners who brought them to life.”

In 2020 Harewood’s gardens became even more important, providing a vital source of respite for local communities during the coronavirus restrictions.

Jane Marriott, Harewood House Trust Director comments:

“Visitors enthusiastically returned when the gardens were re-opened in July 2020, with the wide open spaces allowing families and friends to meet safely, and the beauty of the surroundings promoting peace and wellbeing for all. It brought a lot of joy for us at Harewood, to be able to provide a space for people to come together during such difficult times. We do hope that our wonderful gardens brought some relief, and that visitors will vote for us for Garden of the Year.”

“Harewood’s gardens nod to the past whilst looking to the future. The Archery Border takes inspiration from the Victorian obsession with exotic planting, since it lies beneath the Terrace built by Sir Charles Barry in the 1840s. The Himalayan Garden grew around Princess Mary’s 1930s rock garden, with planting informed by her correspondence with the Royal Botanic Gardens; and the Walled Garden, once a kitchen garden to support the House’s role as a hospital during the First World War, now again has fruits and vegetables planted in neat allotments. However, the methods for growing are changing with Harewood’s environmental concerns.”

Head Gardener Trevor Nicholson, who has been at Harewood for over 25 years, comments:

“Our vegetable plots have been converted to a ‘no-dig’ cultivation system to conserve soil ecology, save water and reduce the carbon footprint. Plants for pollinators are interspersed among organically-grown crops, to enrich the biodiversity of the garden, and plant material is recycled into compost, used throughout the gardens as mulch and soil conditioner.”

Anyone who appreciates and values the stunning Harewood House gardens can vote for Harewood to win the Garden of the Year Award here.

Voting closes on Thursday 30 September and the winner will be announced in November.

Open History at Harewood

As we prepare to launch our inaugural Craft Spotlight this Saturday 26 June 2021, Hannah Obee, Director of Collections, Programming and Learning, takes us through why Craft Spotlight was created,  our Open History programme and Harewood’s commitment to being open and honest about its past.

Black Lives Matter. We knew this, we agreed and we felt we were addressing this, promoting diversity and inclusion through our exhibition and learning programmes. Then on 25 May 2020, George Floyd was murdered on a street in Minneapolis. Suddenly the lens we looked at the world through fractured with a brutal reminder of the vast spectrum of challenges faced by Black people.

While Harewood has repeatedly been committed to addressing its past, opening debate into our roots in the Atlantic Slave Trade, culminating in a year-long programme of events to mark the Bicentenary of the Abolition of Slavery in 2007 and giving emerging artists a platform, by commissioning artists of diverse heritage, from Sonia Boyce to Rommi Smith; the momentum of the BLM movement last May stopped us in our tracks and made us reassess our contribution.

Artist Chris Day in his workshop

Craft Spotlight : Chris Day

During our 2019 Harewood Craft Biennial, I read a report that 96% of professional, full-time crafts people identified as White British. We had already decided this lack of diversity would be a key subject for discussion in the next Harewood Biennial. What we needed though was a consistent response to this lack of racial equality in the Craft world, so we developed Craft Spotlight. This provides funding and a platform for an emerging maker of diverse ethnicity to showcase their work, promoting Craft to people of diverse heritage and ensuring their voices are represented at Harewood. The inaugural display opens 26 June 2021 in All Saints Church at Harewood and features the work of emerging glassblower, Chris Day. His research into Black history and his personal experience made him want to create work that started challenging conversations around Black history including the Transatlantic Slave Trade. His aim is to inspire more Black glassblowers through his own work. Craft Spotlight will continue to be staged in the years between the Biennial.

Photograph of George Bertie Robinson

George ‘Bertie’ Robinson

This year we also begin an annual series that will celebrate and share the often-untold stories of people of African descent with Yorkshire connections throughout history. For 2021, we have teamed up with Leeds-based DSRG (the Diasporian Stories Research Group) to bring to life Bertie Robinson: The Footman from St Vincent (17 May – 31 October).  George ‘Bertie’ Robinson travelled with the 5th Earl and Countess from the West Indies to Leeds in 1893 aged 13. Harewood’s first black member of staff, his personal story is extraordinary and compelling. Yet it also lays bare the impact of colonialism in the West Indies post-slavery and attitudes to race in Britain in the early 20th century. These led to him losing his job after nearly 30 years of working for the Lascelles family. New discoveries made while researching the exhibition are included in the display on the State Floor. Our Assistant Curator and Archivist, Rebecca Burton, uncovered letters from his mother Amelia Robinson to the 5th Countess of Harewood while an email to DSRG answered some long-asked questions of what happened after Bertie was sacked. We are very grateful to the Wray family for allowing us to share their story.

 

Two actors in victorian costume reading and looking at books in a library

A Storm at Harewood with Heritage Corner

Finally for 2021, Heritage Corner brings its unique brand of insightful Black History Walks to Harewood in A Storm at Harewood on selected dates between 12 June and 14 August. Following the success of their regular events in Leeds City Centre, Joe Williams and Vanessa Mudd take Pablo Fanque’s Circus Royal performance at Harewood in 1847 as a jumping off point to explore African and West Indian connections to Harewood in an imaginative, fun and family-friendly guided walk of the House and Grounds.  Exploring 2,000 years of African presence in Yorkshire, the walk will provide a greater understanding of Africa’s rich history and contribution to the region.

Harewood’s ‘Open History’

Harewood featured in at ITV documentary – ‘Has George Floyd Changed Britain’ – as charitable trust launches Open History programme continuing to explore its history and combat racism.

A year on since George Floyd was murdered, Sir Trevor McDonald and Charlene White examined how the UK has reacted to his death, its effect on the Black Lives Matter movement and ongoing conversations about racism in a one-hour documentary aired on ITV this evening.

David Lascelles, Earl of Harewood, spoke of what he, the Countess of Harewood and Harewood House Trust have done to address the estate’s heritage, commenting:

‘I think it’s a period of history that as a nation, we’ve not come to terms with properly. I think that, until we do, a lot of the divisions, a lot of the conflicts, can’t be resolved until we understand our history properly.’

The Trust and the Lascelles family have been at the forefront of acknowledging the estate’s colonial past for over 25 years. Being transparent about colonial history and ensuring the Trust hosts much-needed, and sometimes difficult conversations is vital to calling out racism, and to forging new connections with visitors and the communities of the cities and countryside around.

In the past, Harewood has commissioned artists of diverse heritage from Sonia Boyce to Rommi Smith, and openly engaged in discussions concerning its roots in the Lascelles family’s links to the Atlantic Slave Trade which culminated in a year-long programme of events to mark the Bicentenary of the Abolition of Slavery in 2007, notably featuring Geraldine Connor’s Carnival Messiah. 

The Trust continues this commitment to promoting and celebrating equality, diversity and inclusion, and to combating racism. It is central to Harewood’s programming aims, to working with its staff and volunteers, and working with the communities in and around Leeds and West Yorkshire.

2021 UP+OPEN:
OPEN HISTORY

Harewood’s Open History programme engages audiences with the urgent issues of our time, engendering empathy and understanding of these issues in order to celebrate diversity, whilst bringing Harewood’s colonial past into greater focus.

Launching on 12 June, Heritage Corner brings its unique brand of insightful Black History Walks to Harewood following the success of regular events in Leeds City Centre. In a 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 through the guise of Pablo Fanque and his wife. Fanque, Britain’s first recorded circus owner of African heritage, brought his circus to the Harewood area in 1847. His circus pantomime was based on a plantation narrative, Obi, or Three Fingered Jack, which unusually places an African rebellion leader as hero and was very popular as a play in London’s West End for over two decades.

Joe Williams, Director of Heritage Corner, comments:

‘We aim to enhance positive engagement and discourse on race and social cohesion from a shared heritage perspective. Excluding shame and blame by intent, the aim is to inform and engender pride and hope for all visitors.’ 

Harewood have teamed up with Leeds-based DSRG (the Diasporian Stories Research Group) to bring to life the story of Harewood’s first known black member of staff, George ‘Bertie’ Robinson, who travelled 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, shown on the State Floor from 17 May, is the first in 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 the Lascelles’ links to the West Indies in the early 20th century, the impact of colonialism on St Vincent, and attitudes in Britain towards people of colour at that time.

On 26 June an exhibition by glassblower Chris Day will open in Harewood’s All Saints’ Church as part of a brand new Craft Spotlight series. The series provides a platform for emerging makers of diverse ethnicity. Inaugural artist Chris Day creates work to open conversations around Black history including the Transatlantic Slave Trade and under-representation of makers of diverse heritage in the craft sector. 

Hannah Obee, Harewood Director of Collections, Programme and Learning, comments:

‘A report published by Crafts Council prior to our 2019 Harewood Biennial, Useful/Beautiful: Why Craft Matters, stated that 96% of professional, full-time crafts people identified as White British. We had already decided this lack of diversity would be a key subject for debate – Craft Spotlight now acts as a consistent response to this lack of racial inequality in Craft.’

UP+OPEN:
OPEN LEARNING

As part of the British Museum’s Where We Are programme, Harewood continues its long-standing relationship with the Geraldine Connor Foundation to work on a joint project with young people who define themselves as from the African diaspora. ‘Harewood is my House’ will see a group of ten young people define what they consider arts and culture, identify barriers to engagement and create a response that addresses a local need identified by them.

As a first step in Harewood’s action plan to increase diversity and inclusion, the Trust is prioritising local children of colour experiencing obstacles (financial and societal) to accessing Harewood’s collections and the site. This begins with reaching out to schools through free online teaching resources beginning with Bertie Robinson: The Footman from St Vincent.

The Trust also works with partners Bradford Prevent to develop free resources for use in Bradford Schools, funded by the Home Office. By sharing Harewood’s involvement in the slave trade, wider conversations around Black Lives Matter can be opened with students and upskill teachers to address diverging viewpoints through discussion.

BEYOND 2021

Looking to the future, the Trust’s commitments as part of its continuing discourse around Harewood’s heritage and its responsibility to combat racism is something which it approaches through its programming in order to build engagement, empathy and understanding. 

A performance project with Leeds Playhouse is currently in development, future artists to feature in Craft Spotlight are in discussion and Harewood is looking ahead to the next subject in its series uncovering prolific Yorkshire figures of African descent, amongst other conversations.

Harewood is continuing to review its Learning Strategy and Plan to make explicit its commitment to equality, diversity and inclusion. Consultation with local young people, teachers and the wider community will shape our Learning offer to fit their needs so our collections are open to all.

The Trust also believes that empowering its staff to feel confident in having conversations about racism is paramount in combating racism. Every member of the team has undertaken unconscious bias training and is invited to regular all staff talks with guest speakers on such topics, and three company-wide working streams – People, Place and Programme – focus on how equality, diversity and inclusion are central to Harewood’s values.

Jane Marriott, Trust Director comments:

‘It is vital that we continue to call out racism and discrimination, that we use Harewood as a safe place in which to have open conversations and to bring communities together. Harewood can provide the knowledge and understanding of difficult histories, including our own, and it will lift-up marginalised voices, promoting equality, diversity and inclusion. 

‘Our commitment to being open and transparent about Harewood’s past has led to the creation of our Open History programme in 2021. This programme will engage our audiences with the urgent issues of our time in order to engender empathy and understanding so that we can truly celebrate the diversity of our society today.’

Download the Full Release including Editor’s Notes >>

Mental Health First Aiders at Harewood

We all have mental health and, just like our physical health, it needs looking after to ensure we stay well.

In February 2021, two employees at Harewood became Mental Health Champions. The aim was to raise awareness of mental health and wellbeing among staff, to challenge the stigma around mental ill health, and provide peer support to colleagues.

The current statistics in the UK show that one in four people will experience mental ill health in any given year (leedsmind.org.uk). Between one in five and one in six working age adults are depressed, anxious or experiencing stress-related issues at any one time (MHFA, 2016). This demonstrates the growing need for employers to support mental health and wellbeing, just like physical health, to empower employees to thrive.

 

Our Mental Health Champions recently completed training to become Mental Health First Aiders in a two-day course run by Leeds Mind. The course gave our First Aiders an in-depth understanding of mental health and the factors that can affect wellbeing, as well as the practical skills to spot the triggers and signs of mental ill health.

 

Jake Fireman, Visitor Experience Team Member and Mental Health Champion comments:

Learning about mental health first aid was a fascinating and often intense experience. It was very interesting to find out about how a mental health first aid situation can be approached and managed safely and properly in much the same way a physical first aid incident can be. The skills and knowledge I have acquired have greatly increased my confidence in handling and understanding any manner of mental health crisis, big or small, and I am proud to be a Mental Health Champion here at Harewood.

 

Emily Long, Visitor Experience Manager and Mental Health Champion comments:

Becoming a Mental Health First Aider has been invaluable for me as a line manager to reassure and support staff. It has enhanced my interpersonal skills such as non-judgemental listening and has given me the knowledge to help someone recover their health by guiding them to further support – whether that’s self-help resources, through our Employee Assistance Programme, the NHS, or a mix.

 

 

Follow Harewood on social media @harewoodhouse

Find out more about Leeds Mind>>>

 

Harewood House & Geraldine Connor Foundation selected as partners for new youth programme

Harewood is delighted to have been selected in partnership with The Geraldine Connor Foundation as a Key partner for ‘Where we Are…’ a new national programme for young people by The British Museum.

Organised by the British Museum, and supported by the Paul Hamlyn Foundation, projects will be led by and co-produced with young people. The open and collaborative nature of these projects will enable creative and unconstrained approaches towards the idea of arts and culture. With direct input from young people aged 16–24, these bespoke projects will develop and evolve in response to a need in the local community. The Key Partner organisations involved span from a museum to historic house and art gallery and will support under-served young people to produce diverse and unique projects with their charity counterparts. These third sector bodies have missions ranging from a focus on young carers, a nurturing of new talent and the provision of music and arts education.

Harewood House Trust and the Geraldine Connor Foundation will work on a project with the idea that Harewood House acts as ‘My House’ – a place belonging to everyone individually. Young people will form a creative response to any aspect of the house, its landscape its collections and its history, including exploring decolonisation narratives and varying ways to present history.

Selina McGonagle, Director at Geraldine Connor Foundation said: “The Geraldine Connor Foundation is thrilled to have been selected to be part of the Where we are… programme. This co-produced project will be an opportunity for young people to explore the history of Harewood House creatively in their own way, giving them the freedom to express what the house means to them today.”

Jane Marriott, Trust Director at Harewood House said: “Since 2012 Geraldine Connor Foundation and Harewood House have worked closely on creative projects for young people across Leeds and the wider area. We do this in order to lift up marginalised voices and promote equality, diversity and inclusion. We use our programme to engage our audiences with the urgent issues of our time. It is therefore wonderful to have this commitment recognised by the British Museum and to be a partner in the Where we are… programme, offering underrepresented young groups the opportunity to address issues such as this across the UK today.”

FIND OUT MORE 
The British Museum – Where We Are …
The Geraldine Connor Foundation 
Follow Harewood on social media @HarewoodHouse