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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. 

The books that shaped me – Pauline Mayers

Pauline Mayers is an independent writer, theatremaker and choreographer based in Leeds and currently working on projects with the Geraldine Connor Foundation and Leeds Playhouse that link to Harewood.

1. A coffee table read you return to again and again.
I don’t generally tend to return to the books I’ve read unless it’s related to making performance. The themes I have had in my work have centred around British history, identity and care. Black and British: A Forgotten History by David Olusoga is one that comes to mind. The way that history is taught in schools is currently being hotly contested in light of the Black Lives Matter movement in recent weeks. Olusoga’s book with the accompanying BBC series re-integrates British history, recording the 18 centuries Black Britons have been present in the UK.

2. A book that has inspired you.
Last Night On Earth by the American choreographer Bill T. Jones, is like a meditation on his methods of making dance and his journey to becoming a choreographer.

3. A book that has related to your career or life path.
I was gifted a biography on the late Josephine Baker called Jazz Cleopatra by Phyllis Rose. Baker was an American dancer who took Europe by storm. Through this book, Baker became a mentor to me during my dance training at one of the top ballet schools in the country, the Rambert School in London.

4. A book you didn’t think you would like, but surprised you.
Recently I read (in a matter of hours!) Binti by Nnedi Okorafor. It’s a trilogy about a young student called Binti who is the first from the Himba people to gain a place at the most prestigious university in the galaxy, Oomza University. However, in order to attend, Binti must leave her home and travel the stars. Binti is about her journey. Okorafor creates a world that is fantastic and dark. I really loved the world and the characters created.

5. A book that in your opinion everyone should read.
A book I love to read again is Angela Saini’s Superior. A brilliant book about the origins of science from the 1700’s. This I feel is required reading for everyone in the UK.

6. A book someone passed to you and you passed on.
A book that relates to the work I make is Slavery, Family and Gentry Capitalism in the British Atlantic by Simon D. Smith. It’s about how the Lascelles family, the original owners of Harewood House, built an extensive business empire centred on the slave trade and finance in the West Indies. It’s a fascinating book, that shines a light on the main business interests of Henry Lascelles, which included his involvement in the transporting of the enslaved from “Floating Factories” off the Ghanaian coast to Barbados in the West Indies.


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Staying Creative with artist Juli Bolaños-Durman

“By slowing down, going back to basics and making something with our hands like our ancestors did to survive…”

What are you working on during lockdown?

When the lockdown happened, I found myself really stressed listening to the uncertainty of it all in the news, so I decided that for my mental health I would turn them off and started to draw and colour. For me, this is an activity that I have enjoyed since I can remember, and thanks to my studio practice, I have made it a ritual that allows my nervous system to calm myself, self-regulate from a space of hope and joy; now more than ever.  But when I started to share these exercises on my social media, I realised my audience responded to these and thought to myself how I could support an international community from my perspective. This is how #StayCreative with Juli was born, fostering community at heart by focusing our energy on what we CAN control and that is our actions and the blank piece of paper in front of us. These are a series of free activities such as illustrations for you to trace, download or print and make 3D sculptures using materials from your recycle bin. I have put together some videos for the audience to join me in staying creative and tapping into this powerful tool. Find out more at www.julibd.com/staycreative

Also, I have been strategizing on how I can use this time to develop a new line under my studio practice umbrella that could give me more flexibility working from home, instead of my usual glass sculptures that need specific specialised machinery, studio space and team-work. Here is where drawing comes into again. I want to continue to push forward my illustration by promoting more pattern making projects, wallpaper design and illustrate short stories for kids focusing on themes of resilience, vulnerability and creativity during uncertain times. Hopefully, this will bring in new projects and clients while indirectly promoting my overall creative practice helping to weather the storm. By focusing my energies on activities that give me hope and not being run over by the fear of it all. But most importantly, fostering more community engagement, the value of non-formal education and how we can use creativity as a vehicle for innovation.

What is inspiring you at the moment?

This pandemic has reinforced my curiosity and methodology to be even more resilient and resourceful, using what we do have around us working from home and having a positive contribution. This is an opportunity that invites us to see things from a different perspective and how we can give a second chance to waste material to become a symbol of revival and authenticity. 

Also, watching how the community has come together to support one another and the courageous task the essential workers have taken on. I want to be a part of a caring community and contribute from my perspective for a better system moving forward.

How might craft help us rebuild a better future?

In a world where we can no longer compete with machines, our education systems need to be modified from teaching facts to thinking with our hands. By promoting a persistent spirit of inquiry and resilience, guiding us into adapting to these uncertain times and building a more just world filled with beauty for everyone to appreciate. Craft is one of these tools which must be put at the forefront and invested in.

Every time we make/mend something, it is a poetic act of rebellion, a challenge to our current consumer habits and the status quo; now more poignant than ever. By slowing down, going back to basics and making something with our hands like our ancestors did to survive. By connecting to this visceral bond between the maker/ material and how this playful methodology is a tool to foster joy; a powerful life-force that can only be fostered within ourselves to share and create a better world.

#StayCreative at home, and download Juli’s resources below

– Juli Bolaños-Durman, May 2020

Reasons to be excited about food and drink at Harewood

Harewood_House_FoodandDrinkFood is synonymous with Harewood House, a place where a fully working Walled Garden has provided fresh produce to estate residents and workers, the local community and those further afield for hundreds of years, including during two wartimes.

As part of Harewood House Trust’s broader commitment to the environment and sustainability, including looking at food production, transport and seasonality, a new food and drink offering was due to be presented to visitors this season. A full offering will now be on hold until the green light is given to reopen and operate in a greater capacity alongside recommended guidelines.

The new caterer in the Courtyard Café and the Terrace Tearoom is the Harewood Food & Drink Project, a company that has been engaging diners with their innovative events and commitment to sourcing the very best of local produce since they were set up in 2016. HF & DP was established to promote, showcase and celebrate the heritage of food and drink production in and around Harewood, they’re committed to using seasonal produce grown, reared and foraged on the estate, alongside working with the best of local suppliers. We felt it was important to partner with a caterer who shares and promotes similar philosophies to us, understanding the provenance of food and the impact of food miles.

Here’s the vision for food and drink at Harewood, built around the 5 S’s:
Simple – Simple dishes cooked to perfection

Seasonal – Using ingredients when they are at their absolute best

Sustainable – Champions of  the field to fork, plot to plate and zero miles philosophy, much of what diners will enjoy will be sourced from the Harewood estate and Walled Garden.

Sourced Locally – Working with the very best of local producers and suppliers

Specials – Ever changing seasonal specials board


Photo Clare McClean

Harewood Food & Drink Project has received widespread acclaim for their dining experiences and events over recent years, and also own and run the popular Muddy Boots Café in Harewood Village. Once fully open again, their Executive Chef Josh Whitehead will oversee the menu at the Courtyard and Terrace Tearoom. He was crowned “Best Chef in Yorkshire” at the Yorkshire Post Oliver Awards earlier this year and is a former semi-finalist in 2016 MasterChef: The Professionals.

Innovative collaborations have included a number of bespoke beers with award-winning Leeds brewers Northern Monk, using hops from the Walled Garden; and Whittaker’s Gin Harewood Greystone Gin, made from the hand-picked mulberries from the 150-year old tree growing alongside the Harewood lake, and elderberries foraged from across the estate.

“We are really excited to be working with Harewood Food and Drink Project to deliver our brand-new food offer at Harewood. Earlier this year we underwent a competitive tender process to select a new partner and HF&DP really impressed us in terms of their commitment to menu innovation, quality, provenance and sustainability. We have already been working with them to deliver private events in the house and Courtyard, the most impressive of which was our Christmas Magic by Moonlight dinner, an enchanting candle-lit, long table dinner hosted amongst the Renaissance Masters in the Gallery.

“During our closed season, our Courtyard Café and Terrace Tearoom have undergone a refurbishment, working with Leeds botanical studio, The Plant Room, and we look forward to opening them alongside some delicious new menus to our Members and visitors as soon as it’s safe to do so.”
Rachel Crewes, Head of Trading

To find out more about food and drink at Harewood.

Harewood’s Sustainability Story: The Biomass Project

Biomass is fuel that is developed from organic materials, a renewable and sustainable source of energy. Harewood House and the Courtyard are heated by a biomass boiler.

We have over 800 acres of woodland on the Harewood Estate. Many areas are Ancient Scheduled Woodland Sites and some sit within our Registered Park and & Gardens. Nearly all areas are viewable from public rights of way and we have a wealth of wildlife that make our forests their home. So our woodland operations need to work sensitively within these constraints and are now geared towards protecting and enhancing the landscape for amenity and biodiversity value.

We conduct necessary thinning of our woodlands on a regular basis to help improve the timber stocks and the values we are trying to protect. Historically we have sent felled timber off to merchants round the country, but we now use it on site within our biomass plants to provide renewable heat for Harewood House and the Courtyard, as well as the Estate’s commercial office spaces, 10 holiday cottages and 15 residential properties. It’s a model of what a renewable energy district heating system of the future might look like.

Once the trees are felled the timber is taken back to the Walled Garden, stacked and left to dry to reduce the moisture content to make it suitable for burning within the biomass plant. Around 8 months later (depending on the weather!) the timber is dry enough to chip and we hire in a Diomante chipper, an amazing piece of kit which picks whole tree stems on the one side, feeds it through a chipper and produces the chip out the other side which is loaded directly into a wagon. The chipper can process up to 50 tonnes per hour!


With the chip created, we take it back to our chip store, where it is unloaded and spread out to aid further drying. We try to keep at least 6 months of chip in stock. Once it’s down to the correct moisture content (30-35%) it can be used in the boilers. We fill up each boilers chip store once a week and it then feeds into the boilers automatically. The feed store has a slowly vibrating floor that moves the chip from front to back to ensure a steady supply of chip to the boiler.


The main boiler at the time of installation was one of the largest in Yorkshire. It burns the chip at temperatures of up to 900°c which then heats the water. It’s incredibly efficient, with hardly any waste material produced, usually just a couple of ash buckets per week. From the storage tanks, which hold around a 24-hour supply, the hot water then goes into the district piping network and out to all the properties that are connected in.

As well as being a reason to reinvigorate our woodland operations, the biomass plants are a great source of renewable energy and have helped us reduce our carbon footprint as well as those of our tenants by association. Compared to an oil system we are saving over 440 tonnes of CO2 each year – if you also factor in the savings by processing the timber on site rather than transporting them to merchants elsewhere the total reaches almost 650 tonnes of CO2 saved each year. That’s roughly equivalent to 1,000 people taking return flights from London to New York or what 25 families would average during a whole year.

We’ve been working with the Leeds Climate Commission, Circular Yorkshire and Sustainable Arts in Leeds to share our story so others can build from our success.