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Trust Director Jane Marriott

Jane Marriott, Trust Director, looking forward to 2019

HarewoodBiennial19_GlassWe are all now great Mary Berry fans at Harewood. Over Christmas over 2 million people watched Mary at Harewood House on the BBC.

But what we particularly enjoyed was showing Mary and the wonderful crew at Shine TV, the many stories that have developed here over two centuries, and give an insight into how the future might look.

Starting the year with so many political and economic uncertainties in the face of Brexit, it is perhaps not surprising that we look to the comfort and steadfastness of spending time at home, surrounding ourselves with our treasured and familiar objects, spending time with friends and family. The holiday industry is also anticipating that it will become a sector driven less by exotic spa-breaks and overseas far flung holidays, and more by a growth in accessible, affordable ways to take time out and enjoy what is on our doorstep.

Interestingly, everything is now seemingly based on buying local, supporting great makers and surrounding ourselves with beautiful, tactile objects, from thick wool rugs, to velvet throws and gorgeous objects on display – this is reassuring and helps us feel as though we have some control in how we look after ourselves. Our homes are a place to retreat to and replenish ….I’d like Harewood to feel the same as you drive through the gates into another world, which is just as familiar, warming and enjoyable.

Craft and design will always be affected by what is happening in the world and this current moment is no exception. We will celebrate great makers this year with ‘Useful/Beautiful: why craft matters’, the first exhibition of our newly launched Harewood Biennial. We’ll pose questions about craft in a digital age and our yearning still for something physical and sensory. To explore objects that give us a thrill to look at, touch and ponder. To wonder how something was made, who was involved and why they chose to make it. Our ambition is to create the most significant craft and design show outside London every two years.

We are clearly moving towards a rejection of a throw-away society and a pace of life so fast that it is exhausting. This year at Harewood we’ll continue to help visitors find their oasis of space, perhaps by wandering through the engaging sound installation of the Pleasure Garden, sited in the Walled Garden this summer, or by celebrating 30 years of working with great contemporary artists at Harewood, in a new exhibition in the autumn called ‘Postcards to the Future’.

For now, after a day of meandering through the glorious work of great craftsmen from the past at Harewood, from expansive Adam ceilings to intricate carvings on Chippendale furniture, I am happy to be inspired to create my own corner of luxury at home. Let’s not kid ourselves, my house is far from an architectural gem, revealing a mix of Georgian, Victorian and 20th century additions…but I can’t deny the thrill of pulling back old carpets and chipboard to reveal striking slightly battered floorboards yearning to be restored. My husband and I may yet be our own versions of great craftsmen ….!

We will remember…Trust Director Jane Marriott writes…

HarewoodHouseSeedsofHopeSeeds of Hope at Harewood this summer, reminded us that, whether you were home or fighting overseas, everyone was affected by the First World War. Our hope was to tell the story of those who stayed at home, contributing to the war effort by growing food and cultivating the land. The sense of community and mutual support came across strongly through the letters, diaries and stories we unearthed from that time.

There were moments of hope, as the soldiers recovered in the convalescence hospital sited in Harewood House, the opportunity women had to develop new skills as Women’s Land Army in the Walled Garden, and the Naval Award recognising Harewood’s gardeners’ contribution to the war effort. To reinforce this sense of hope and renewal, we purposefully chose to plant 1,269 sunflowers, representing all of those recovering at Harewood. Sunflowers even in decay, promise new life, as the seeds emerge when the flower dies, and can then be replanted.

We worked with an incredibly talented team; Lord Whitney, who treated the subject with such sensitivity and wonderful storytelling, that you could truly imagine the Bothy Boy’s daily toil, or Mr Leathley, the Head Gardener’s reluctant acceptance that his roses must give way to a productive garden.

Human resilience and the power to renew ourselves, even in the darkest of times, is what keeps us all going. I like to think that Harewood today can still add to this sense of peace and rejuvenation. We may only be 7 miles from Leeds city centre, but when you are here, it can feel as though you’ve completely escaped from the stresses of everyday life. Next time you visit, take a moment to gaze across the lake, watch the Red Kites swoop over the walled garden and walk through the trees of a landscape created by Capability Brown over two centuries ago.

We hope our contribution to the commemorations of the end of the First World War and the community spirit here, was a just, sobering, but also uplifting moment of reflection and insight for every generation of visitor. It seems fitting to end with part of Wilfred Owen’s poem ‘Futility’, which my 10-year old has been reading at school this week;

‘Move him into the sun –
Gently its touch awoke him once,
At home, whispering of fields unsown.
Always it woke him, even in France,
Until this morning and this snow.
If anything might rouse him now
The kind old sun will know.’

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Creating Space and enjoying the changing season – Jane Marriott, Trust Director

CraetingSpaceBlogHsrewood_HouseYou may mourn the passing of the glorious summer weather, but autumn is definitely my favourite time of year. There is a special clarity of light across Harewood, as the leaves turn colour and people return, to enjoy long, lingering walks around the lake. This year we wanted to focus on that much used term ‘health and wellbeing’ and what that really means to us and how Harewood can play a part.

I suspect many of us are feeling the pace of life picking up again. My boys are back to school, my work diary is a complicated patchwork of meetings, events and talks. In the past 7 days alone, I’ve been to the opening of the Turner Prize, seen the extraordinary Oceania exhibition at the Royal Academy (yes with Meghan Markle on her first solo engagement!) and am in the midst of the annual art frenzy that is the Frieze Art Fair. Next Monday I’ve been invited to see Rachel Whiteread’s specially commissioned piece in the beautiful Dalby Forest. What strikes me in all of this, is our constant need to create – to fashion works out of materials, to celebrate what others have created and take a moment to wonder at beautiful and sometimes challenging pieces.

That need to create, to renew ourselves and to stop the daily grind of life just for a moment is really powerful. Ironically in a time when we are more connected than ever, we often feel quite disconnected and feel the need to take time out.

I would love everyone to take a moment here at Harewood to appreciate that new crispness in the air, to relish wearing our favourite jumpers again and tuck into some heartier fare. Hot chocolates, cheese toastie and waffles have all crept on to our menus and I for one, will need to resist the need to eat, as though I am going into hibernation! I am rather useless at baking, but that doesn’t stop me appreciating the wonderful produce from our walled garden, turning into bakes, crumbles, stews and steaming soups to tempt us all…..taking time to make things, rather than just talking about it.

The next Autumn Glory Festival: Craft & Colour, takes place on Saturday 20 and Sunday 21 October.

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