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Harewood Biennial 2024: Craft Spotlight Series

Harewood Biennial 2024: Create/Elevate celebrates the power of craft to inspire and bring people together to imagine new worlds. It introduces the work of sixteen British and international artists, designers and collectives, including four new commissions, which are presented across Harewood House and its Gardens.

As part of Biennial season, we’d also like to share the hidden craft stories of Harewood and take a look into the vibrant world of art and craft through the eyes of our dedicated staff, volunteers and Members.

Each individual we feature is a testament to the transformative power of creativity and the positive impact it can have on our lives and communities.

Through their stories, we hope to inspire you to find your own creative spark.

We’re also hosting a range of workshops from brush and broom making to silk scarf dying, embroidery and beer tasting.

Link to take you to August workshops

Craft Spotlight Series #1: Julie Cross

Julie is an award-winning artist living in Yorkshire, and a member of our Visitor Experience team. She is a figurative, expressionist painter who focuses upon female figures and faces to highlight some of the essentials of human existence.

We are overwhelmed by her talent and wanted to share how her creative journey began – it’s a surprising story!

Craft Spotlight Series #1: Julie Cross

Julie Cross, Visitor Experience Team Member, Harewood House Trust

Julie is a dynamic figurative, expressionist painter who brings the essence of human existence to life through her vivid depictions of female figures and faces.

Drawing inspiration from Joshua Reynolds’ iconic portrait of Lady Worsley, Julie has crafted a mesmerizing series of her own unique interpretations, reimagining Harewood’s legendary lady with her signature flair.

We’re overwhelmed by Julie’s talent and would like share how her creative journey began – it’s a surprising story!

Lady Worsley sketches by Julie Cross

How I got into painting . . . it’s not got any of that ‘romantic’ discovering a latent talent or anything like that, I’m afraid! As a kid, I was big into horses and reading, so not really arty at all, and nor were my family. As an adult, however, I was once asked at a dinner party what talent/ability I’d love to have, and I said it must be lovely to be able to paint and draw. My good old mum remembered me saying this and for my 40th birthday, she wanted to get something special. I got 10 presents, and I must admit, I was a bit nonplussed when I opened the first and it was just a simple pencil! It went on – a brush, then some watercolour paints etc –  until the 10th and final one which was a voucher for a watercolour workshop retreat! I had absolutely no intention of going, though I was deeply touched by the gesture. However, as a break from my arduous PhD studies whilst bringing up two kids, I ended up taking the course. But my mum had made a mistake and hadn’t got me a beginners’ course. It was straight out into the field with a load of experienced artists, painting from life! Talk about a baptism of fire! Anyway, I was absolutely hooked . . .

I taught myself from books and videos mainly, as well as taking workshops, and before I knew it, I ended up running and chairing a national art society, the Association of Animal Artists! I couldn’t resist my love of painting people and figures, though, so now that’s what I paint, and I moved to the medium of oil paint (much easier to paint skin and make changes with oil paint!).  The human animal is endlessly fascinating to me!

As to what the creative process makes me feel . . . I think I’ve always had a good imagination and I love to try new things, so creativity has always been part of me, just not through the medium of paint. Now, I couldn’t imagine my life without art. I paint and draw every day, and although I do paint things for specific purposes, I love to express my own thoughts and paint for myself.  The feeling you get when ‘lost’ in painting, alone in your studio in that flow state, fully immersed, with a total lack of self consciousness, when the grasp of time just slips away . . . bliss. It’s not always relaxing, of course, which is a common thing people say to you, as the problems you have to solve in painting are many, but it takes you away from your ‘real’ life into a different realm. In that respect, it’s all about the process, not the end product.

Lady Worsley courtesy of Julie Cross

Creativity is boundless – you never ‘use it all up’. Creating one thing stimulates you and leads onto others. Yes, creative work necessarily builds on what has gone before, so in that way there is nothing new under the sun.  But what YOU bring to it makes it unique.  We all have our own individual memories, experiences, doubts, fears, skillsets, and that’s what makes our creations original. You just have to let go and be yourself.  You use your personal image bank and processes, together with your unique stylistic flourishes.

Everyone who works at Harewood could paint or draw, or even trace, Lady Worsley in that pose of Joshua Reynolds, and every single one would be different.  That’s what I love about art. Endless variety and the innate human desire to express oneself and make a mark.

Lady Worsley courtesy of Julie Cross

The original portrait of Lady Worsley, by Joshua Reynolds, can be found in the Cinnamon Drawing Room above Harewood Biennial artist Temitayo Ogunbiyi’s sculpture.

Temitayo Ogunbiyi’s You will find Lagos in the United Kingdom Living is a site-specific sculpture inspired by natural forms and the flight routes between the UK and Lagos in Nigeria, where she lives.

Alluding to stories of transnational relationships and generations of people journeying across lands and seas, the titles of Ogunbiyi’s works are conceived as declarative prayers, each beginning with ‘You will’.

Temitayo Ogunbiyi’s You will find Lagos in the United Kingdom Living, Drew Forsyth

View more of Julie’s work on her website – juliecross.me

Follow Julie on instagram – @juliecrossart


“Diane and I are very sad to know of the death of Terry Suthers who we have known for more than thirty years.

Terry was Harewood House Trust’s first Director from 1992 to 2007. His experience in the museum world, both in York and at the Science Museum in London, brought a new level of professionalism to Harewood and his tenure here saw a period of great change. We started winning awards for our education programme and making successful bids for public funding. We became the first country house in the UK to become a fully Registered and Accredited Museum, our collections Designated as being of national importance. In partnership with the Borthwick Institute at York University we obtained funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund to conserve, digitise and make publicly accessible papers discovered in the basement
of Harewood House that now form the Lascelles Slavery Archive. Terry was also an executive producer of Carnival Messiah, the hugely successful theatrical production staged in a huge marquee on the North Front, that was the climax of our year of activities to commemorate the bi-centenary of the Abolition of the Slave Trade in 2007.

Terry’s glass was always half full; he was always positive in his dealings with people, always supportive to younger colleagues, always respected by his professional peers. There are only a few people still at Harewood who would have worked with him, but those of us who did will all remember him as a lovely man. We will all miss him.”

David Lascelles, Earl of Harewood

Personal, surprising and optimistic: what you can expect from Radical Acts, with curator Hugo Macdonald and Trust Director Jane Marriott

Two people central to Radical Acts are Jane Marriott, the Director of Harewood House Trust, and Hugo Macdonald, the exhibition curator.

We sat down for a chat with Jane and Hugo, to look back on the evolution of Radical Acts and find out what visitors can expect.

Thank you both for finding the time to chat, especially in these busy two weeks before Radical Acts opens! Where did the idea for the Biennial come from?

Jane Marriott: Harewood House Trust is a charity and a museum, and it’s been set up as such since 1986. Our purpose is to conserve the House, the gardens and the wonderful collections. But more than that, we want to create exhibitions that excite our visitors, introducing them to new things, new artists, new ideas.

And so back in 2018 we decided that we wanted to do an exhibition about craft. It’s really interesting how many people have become interested in craft, in thinking about materials and in showing their support of local makers and artists. And of course, Harewood House, built in the late 1700s, has the most incredible craftsmanship from Chippendale furniture, to Robert Adam interiors. to John Carr architecture. So we thought Harewood is the perfect place to continue that great tradition of craftsmanship. When we started talking about the exhibition, we got brilliant feedback from people in the field, saying that makers and crafts in this country need that platform.

How did Hugo become involved?

Jane: What was really refreshing in the first conversation I had with Hugo was that, because his background is in writing, he puts craft within the context of how we live today. From that first conversation, I knew that he wasn’t just a wonderful curator, just picking beautiful objects; we’d be working with someone who would really take a step back and challenge us to think about craft in a different way. And so that’s when we invited Hugo to do the first Biennial, Useful/Beautiful, which was shown in 2019.

Hugo, can you tell us what you thought of Harewood when you first arrived and what inspires you about Harewood?

Hugo Macdonald: On my first visit I was overwhelmed, just like a lot of people probably are when they first come to a property of such magnificence. Every time I visit, I feel like I learn something new. There are so many layers not just to what you see, but also what you discover about people who have lived and worked in the House. The craftsmanship has been added to over decades and generations, centuries even. That’s where I find the challenge in curating the Biennial צ how do you introduce a contemporary layer that makes sense for what exists there already, but also brings something of today into the mix? How can we help people understand Harewood’s historic stories, but also put them in the context of contemporary life? How do we keep Harewood feeling alive?

How did you decide what to do for the second Biennial?

Jane: It’s not a case of saying, here’s what we want, Hugo, can you please do that? It’s a series of conversations. For the first Biennial, we invited multiple makers to respond to the House; we agreed that the format worked, but that this time we wanted to focus on a smaller number of really special makers. We also decided to exhibit pieces outdoors as well as indoors.

Our discussions began pre-Covid, thinking about the environmental crisis and what the role of these great estates can be in helping with that; to give this platform to great makers to talk about how craft can make a difference with sustainability, regenerative design, those sorts of topics. And then, of course, Covid came along and whilst we didn’t shift from those themes, we created a more nuanced response, which Hugo is very well placed to talk about more.

Hugo: The world was changing quite quickly, and our Biennial was an opportunity to address other connected subject matters that were coming to the surface. For example, how we think about well-being on a personal but also social and environmental level; and Black Lives Matter. The murder of George Floyd was a catalyst for many more conversations about racial and social injustice and given Harewood’s origins, we really wanted to include that as part of our exhibition. A lot of these subjects are things that craft deals with in a very open way, and craft can help ask important questions.

With that in mind, we decided to highlight people and projects who are engaged with asking questions about climate change and about society: how we relate to ourselves, the environment, each other. We called it Radical Acts because the word radical comes from the Latin word radix, which means roots; and each of the projects in the Biennial explores how things from the past can be a way of understanding the present. We have some very big names in the world of craft and we have some graduate students; it’s important to us that we are a platform that celebrates people at the top of their game, but also emerging interesting voices too.

Jane, what has surprised you about how Radical Acts has come together?

Jane: Probably how the makers bring such a wide variety of stories – very personal stories.

For example. we spent several hours speaking to Fernando Laposse, who talks about this incredible cooperative that he’s worked with in a village in Mexico, which is where he was born. He works with women who use the waste material from growing heritage corn to make these incredible luxury objects which are sold all around the world. His passion for the story and the women and this incredible cooperative really struck a nerve with me.

Then there’s Eunhye Ko, who is working with us as a younger maker coming into her career, with objects such as hair dryers and everyday electrical items. And you think, well, how on earth is that going to fit into a Biennial? Why will anyone be interested in that? But she works with them in in a very personal, creative way to challenge perceptions of things that we would throw away or replace much more quickly, like hairdryers or hoovers or everyday electrical items.

So I think the surprise for me is the variety, how personal those stories are and how we can relate to them. And I think people will really, really enjoy these 16 different stories from makers and feel a lot of empathy with them.

Hugo, how do you want people to feel when they visit Radical Acts?

Hugo: It has always been very important to us that we create a positive exhibition, an optimistic exhibition that feels entertaining and interesting, and that makes people feel like we can all do small things that join together to make a big difference to help address some of these challenges that we face in life. It is, like Jane says, a surprising exhibition, but we’re not telling people what to do. We are inviting people to come and see how these crafts-people are working in different ways to think about possible futures. And each of the exhibitors has a simple message behind their work that we hope will connect with visitors to Harewood, that visitors will take these ideas back home and think about how they relate to their own lives.

So, for example, Good Foundations International says water is precious. We mustn’t take it for granted. Good Foundations International go into communities who don’t have fresh water and help them to discover local sources, then build skills and businesses in the community to make ceramic water filters, which is an ancient technology for cleaning dirty water. Good Foundations International see firsthand what the impact is on people’s lives when they don’t have access to fresh water, and they alert privileged people to the fact that it’s a resource that should not be taken for granted. That’s one example of a simple message that we hope will connect with people because most of us switch on a tap without even thinking about it.

Hopefully people will reflect on the exhibition for a long time afterwards, and it might influence the small choices we make every day.

Hugo: Absolutely. I feel like exhibitions should be starting points rather than something that begins and ends. I want to open people’s eyes and minds to think about things slightly differently, or to understand how things connect; and to always feel included in that discussion. Never to feel like they are being lectured at or told. We really want to use the Biennial as a way of inviting people into Harewood and making them feel as welcome as possible. And like I said before, to introduce stories into this environment that are surprising, but also very relevant.

What would you say to each visitor as they view the exhibition?

Jane: I encourage you to experience the exhibition as a set of very personal stories, that will talk about that person or that studio’s approach to craft and what’s important to them. What you will hear is those makers saying it in their own voice. I suspect it will surprise a lot of people. I hope some of the choices seem quite bold and some will be quite poignant and quite thoughtful, like Mac Collins and his very personal response to the house and his own history and heritage. But there are also moments of just sheer joy and beautiful objects that are a window into it that particular maker and their achievements.

If I saw the visitor afterwards, I’d remind them that we’ve also got several podcasts and films with the makers – so you can return to those craftspeople who really stuck in your mind and inspired you to do something.

Hugo: One of my favourite things in the exhibition is actually not an exhibit. We have built a blank wall in the Servants’ Hall where we ask the question, What is your radical act? We hope this will encourage visitors to think about what they do in their day to day lives, and that could be something as simple as having a reusable shopping bag or reducing car journeys. That’s what I hope people will be thinking about as they move around the exhibition.

One thing people might be inspired to do is get hands-on with craft-making, and for that they can look forward to our Make it Harewood weekend in July. There will be workshops, music and food, all to show that everybody can be involved in craft and everybody can benefit in some way. It’s a wonderful recurring theme throughout the show, that working with your hands makes you feel happy. It improves your well-being mentally, physically, psychologically and Make it Harewood is a wonderful opportunity for people to have a go. So visit the website for more details on when that will be and who will be involved.

Thank you both!



My Books – By Lady Emily Shard

Harewood_House_booksEmily_ShardContinuing Harewood’s journey through the books that define the people who work with the Trust, Emily Shard, Trustee and daughter of the Earl of Harewood, shares some of the books she has loved.

A coffee table read you return to again and again. Hare with the Amber Eyes by Edmund de Wall. The British Ceramicist takes you on a Journey though generations and across Europe, following his family’s netsuke collection (miniature ceramic animals). A incredible reflection on both Art and Human history.

A book that has inspired you. So many books inspire me – Hopefully we take some kind of inspiration from lots of what we read, and that this is an ongoing process. Recently I read American Poet Ross Gays’ Book of Delights. Gay wrote a short piece every day for a year about something that has delighted him – his meditations on the sometimes tough world and unexpected places where delight can be found, are inspiring. He encourages us all to look carefully, take time and stake out space for joy.

A book you enjoyed reading to children. All of Oliver Jeffers’ books. We started with Lost and Found (The story of a lost Penguin) but they are all brilliant and the author and illustrator has humour and warmth that kids love. His stories often touch on more challenging themes than most children books.

A book that has related to your life path. The Lord of the Rings by J RR Tolkien – this classic was read to me by my dad as a child as my bedtime story. Dad cut out some of the more wordy, boring bits and the magic and characters of the Middle Earth World totally captivated me. I had the good fortune of working on the films in New Zealand, which was an amazing experience. My Children have recently started reading the series too.

A book you didn’t think you would like, but surprised you. The Mandibles by Lionel Shriver – a dystopian novel which uses dark humour to give us a terrifying vision of the future through one family experience, and an insight into what the human impact might be of changing global economics.

A book you would take to a desert island. Buried Giant by Kazuo Ishiguro. This story about love, identity, memory and guilt, can be read and reread with new meanings unearthed every time. Alternatively, I might take a recipe book. This might prove to be torture if there is no food on the island, but something like Forgotten Skills of Cooking by Darina Allen shares traditional and long-forgotten recipes for making all kinds of food from scratch, and with very basic equipment.

A book that in your opinion everyone should read. Living Planet Report by WWF is released every two years and is a breakdown of global trends in species diversity and humanities pressure on important habitats. I have been working with WWF on a few projects in the last few years and the importance of placing ‘value’ on nature and world resources has become even more clear to me, and should be to everyone.

A very English bookThe Salt Path by Raynor Winn is a true story of the writer and her husband’s walk along the south west coast path, following the loss of their home, health and sense of purpose. She evokes the very British south coast land and seascape and makes you want to walk the path and connect with nature. There’s such a power of nature in creating wellbeing and a sense of self.

Favourite Shakespeare play – I love so many of them, Macbeth, Hamlet, A Midsummer Night’s Dream but I prefer to watch them than read them.

A book someone passed to you and you passed on. Lift as you climb by Viv Groskop. The comedian, presenter and public speaker gives guidance about approaching personal progression and bringing others along with your success. It’s thought provoking, supportive and reassuring. My neighbour gave it to me and then I passed it on to a friend.

What are you reading next? – I am shortly going to start reading The Feather Thief: The Natural History Heist of the Century by Kirk Wallace Johnson. It’s the true story of obsession that lead to an amazing and very weird theft. I heard a brilliant podcast about it and the story sound really bazaar and fascinating.

Emily is a film producer for Silverback Films, whose work includes the Netflix Our Planet series, Disneynatures Elephants, Penguins and Dolphin Reef as well as various programmes for the BBC. She cares passionately about the environment and lives in Bristol with her family.

Read more Book Blog podcasts on the Harewood blog.