Useful/Beautiful – Why Craft Matters

16th January 2019

“Why are we so interested in craft today?” is the question the inaugural Harewood Biennial seeks to answer when it launches at Harewood House in March 2019 and opens a vibrant new season at the Yorkshire stately home.

The first exhibition of the Harewood Biennial is Useful/Beautiful: Why Craft Matters, which 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, (from the supermarket to the catwalk) there is also confusion – is it a product or a process? Is it always handmade? Is it just a marketing buzzword?

Visitors to Harewood, Leeds, will experience a visual treat across the House by some of the most exciting leading British-based makers of the moment. Each invited to interpret a different room, the twenty-six exhibitors work both nationally and internationally and span fashion, textiles, woodwork, glass, metalwork, furniture, papercraft and leather.

Approximately 20% of the exhibitors showcased are based in Yorkshire, highlighting the region’s wealth of skilled talent. Distinguished names include Andy Singleton, Lena Peters and Effie Burns, rubbing shoulders alongside statement printmaker Anthony Burrill, Welsh sustainable denim-makers Hiut Denim, whose jeans are worn by Meghan Markle, Freed dance shoes and the Emily Blunt-sporting Fox Umbrellas.

Curated by design critic Hugo Macdonald, the exhibition crosses generations and disciplines, mixes classic and contemporary and uses Harewood House as a platform to showcase and question the very definition of skill and craft today. Harewood House itself is renowned for the craftsmanship that built and furnished it in the 18th century, using the most skilled architects, designers and makers of the time including Chippendale, Robert Adam and Capability Brown.

“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 for the first six months of our season, across all rooms in the House and extending outside, offering a vibrant and playful new perspective and experience for visitors.”

In addition, there will be three exciting new commissions for Harewood by renowned British designers, each showcasing craftsmanship in a different way and specific to the House. These are due to be revealed in February 2019.

Additional key exhibitions at Harewood House in 2019

Summer: Pleasure Garden – an exciting new audio installation for the revamped Walled Garden

Autumn: Postcards to the Future – a celebration of thirty years of contemporary art at Harewood, set up by Diane Howse, Countess of Harewood, in 1989

Winter: Christmas at Harewood 2019 – 23 November – Sunday 5 January 2020.

Major events hosted at Harewood in 2019
Further information and booking: / follow us on social @harewoodhouse

25 – 27 May: Great British Food Festival – The Great British Food Festival is back at Harewood over the late-May bank holiday weekend, with local and artisan producers, food and drink stalls, kids cookery events, top chef demonstrations and live music. An excellent foodie family day out.
£12.50 adult / £7.50 child / £35 family. Members Free.

Outdoor Theatre: the highly respected Chapterhouse Theatre Company returns with two classic productions, ideal for an evening sat beneath the stars. Bring a picnic, blanket and folding chairs to enjoy these wonderful open-air productions.
£16 adult / £11 child / £46 family (2 adults 2 children)
29 June: Secret Garden
13 July: Pride & Prejudice

20 July: Classic Ibiza – the outdoor event of the summer, with live DJs and the Urban Soul Orchestra returning for a second year following a successful first visit. A great family-focused event with food and drink bars and a magnificent backdrop of the House.
£39.50 adult / £17.50 child / under 5s free

9-11 August: VW Festival – one of the most popular events on the summer calendar, the VW Festival is a great family day and involves everything from trade stands, club stands and vehicle displays, to camping, entertainment and live music. A great laid back and family atmosphere.
Pre-booking advisable: £15 adult / child free (5-15yrs) / family £30 (2 adults 3 children)