Textiles at Harewood House

In August this year I visited Harewood House, a stately home (situated just north of Leeds in the UK) in order to see an exhibition called ‘Useful/Beautiful’ #WhyCraftMatters, curated by Hugo Macdonald.

The front facade of Harewood House, Yorkshire

This was the first of what is intended to be a biennial exhibition celebrating modern craft.  Twenty-six different makers were included in this show, including ‘individuals, studios and brands’ (as described in the accompanying hand-out). There were some striking pieces, including some knives made from up-cycled metal cable by Lszek Sikon and elegant fine ceramics by Reiko Kaneko (seen below).

White ceramic bowls made by Reiko Kaneko

However, this is textiles blog, so I want to share some exhibits made of textiles. These colourful umbrellas, made by Fox Umbrellas, floated above a corridor in the house

Display of umbrellas by Fox umbrellas

and a display board showed the processes involved in making a high-quality umbrella

Display board by Fox Umbrellas, showing how an umbrella is made

Jenny King’s embroidery was a delight, as seen on this embroidered sample.

Embroidery sample depicting a bird and decorative frames by Jenny King

This piece, plus other samples and a completed dress were in ‘Princess Mary’s Dressing Room’ which also had – on permanent display – some vintage sewing tools, which I loved.

Vintage sewing tools, such as thimbles, needle-cases and decorative scissors on display at Harewood House, Yorkshire

One room (plus a video, played elsewhere, about the growth of their small company) was dedicated to Hiut Denim, makers of jeans made famous by Meghan Markle, now Duchess of Sussex. Hiut make much of the idea of ‘Doing one thing well’, in their case making excellent jeans, rather than numerous pairs of jeans.


Finally, in Music Room, there was this slightly unearthly display of ballet shoes en pointe

Pink Ballet Shoes by Freed of London displayed in the Music Room of Harewood House, Yorkshire

and, once again, a display to show the craftsmanship involved in the stages of making a pair of ballet shoes.

At the end of this post, you can find links to discover more about these craftspeople.

Yesterday, I went to see the recently released film ‘Downton Abbey’ which is based on the popular UK television series, although the film is self-contained and will make perfect sense even if you have never seen the television programmes.

Photo credit: Radio Times

If you enjoy historical costume (it is set in 1927) and decorative interiors you will enjoy it very much and there are some splendid performances, including the one given by Maggie Smith, pictured above. I am giving away nothing of the plot by telling you that the final scenes are at Harewood, including some ballroom dancing by two of the characters on a terrace at the back of the house. This terrace is where I ate lunch on the day I visited, looking out over stunning formal garden, statues and fountains: you can see the terrace at the top of the steps in the photo below.

Formal gardens and terrace at the rear of Harewood House, Yorkshire

Next week’s blog post will be a free pattern for a quilt block, the tenth in the series ‘Make a Quilt in 2019’.

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This is my ‘White Dahlia’ fabric design. You can find it here.

White Dahlia fabric design by Amanda Jane Textiles, White dahlia heads on green background


Harewood Biennial: https://biennial.harewood.org/

Lszek Sikon: https://www.lsikonblacksmith.com/

Reiko Kaneko: https://www.reikokaneko.co.uk/

Fox Umbrellas: https://www.foxumbrellas.com/2-home

Jenny King: https://www.jennykingembroidery.com/

Hiut Denim: https://hiutdenim.co.uk/

Freed of London: https://www.freedoflondon.com/us/

Thank you for reading my blog. Quilt patterns are here, Fabrics are here, Classes are here.

Published by Amanda Jane Textiles

I am an artist, designer and maker living in Ramsgate, UK

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