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Useful/Beautiful: Why Craft Matters

“Why does craft matter?” is the question the inaugural Harewood Biennial seeks to answer when it launches at Harewood House in March 2019. The exhibition Useful/Beautiful: Why Craft Matters, aims to challenge preconceptions, spark interest and inspire debate about the role craft can play in culture, identity and society.

At a time when there is a surge of interest in craft, there is also much confusion surrounding the subject. Is it a product or a process? Is it always handmade? Is it just a marketing buzzword?

Curated by design critic Hugo Macdonald, the works of over twenty-five diverse British makers will be on show; from fashion, textiles, woodwork, glass, metalwork, furniture, papercraft and lacquer, this is a multi-generational overview of excellence in craft today. Each room will host a different exhibitor. With works from Juli Bolanos-Durman, Anthony Burrill, Hiut Denim, Reiko Kaneko and Yinka Ilori, each exhibitor has been selected to highlight the breadth and importance of craft across contemporary culture. In addition, there will be three site specific installations by renowned British designers, each with a signature approach, demonstrating craftsmanship in a different way.

“This is one of our most ambitious projects to date,” comments Jane Marriott, Harewood House Trust Director. “Together with a wider programme of workshops, demonstrations, symposia and events, Useful/Beautiful will be a fully immersive and visually striking exhibition across all rooms in the House and extending outside, providing a vibrant and playful new perspective and experience for visitors.”

This exhibition places Harewood House firmly on the cultural map. Originally built as a show house, bringing together commissions from some of the finest craftspeople in the region, including Thomas Chippendale and Robert Adam, the house is situated in the middle of the Northern English countryside, with excellent access to the vibrant cities of Leeds and York, and only two hours from Edinburgh and London. From this unique place, Harewood is perfectly positioned to spearhead a conversation in what role craft has in grounding our present experience, and what potential it has to shape our future.

More detailed information on exhibitors and new commissions will be released early 2019.