Art, Design – Harewood House has commissioned unconventional Christmas trees to designers, makers, and artists to reflect the joy and warmth of the season. Eleven tree-like installations – each on show in a different room – are inspired by Harewood’s history and dialogue with the country house’s 18th-century interiors. ‘Long Live the Christmas Tree!’ is on show until January 2.
- RELATED STORIES: Discover more eclectic Christmas trees on Archipanic.
The creatives harnessed materials and items such as paper, deer antlers, carnival costumes, and weeds found in Harewood and its estate.
“We encourage you to linger; to notice the fine craftsmanship of these makers; and to immerse yourselves in the wonderful atmosphere that they have created in such different ways.” Said Jane Marriot, Trust Director of Harewood House.
A giant floral wreath sculpture by Swallows and Damsons welcomes visitors in the Entrance Hall of the House. The installation is “a full circle to represent the never-ending cycles of life,” said Anna Potter, founder of Swallows and Damsons. The designers used weeds sourced from Harewood’s Walled Garden and the wider estate.
A touch of West Indian Carnival comes to the exhibition with a large-scale Christmas tree inspired by many different winter festivals and celebrations by Carnival costume designer Hughbon Condor in the State Dining Room. [Second photo of the post].
Andy Singleton has created Ribbon Tree, a decorative sculpted paper tree in the Spanish Library. “The installation takes inspiration from the traditional Christmas ribbon. As it unfurls, it transforms into symmetrical organic sculptural forms referencing Harewood’s intricate Neoclassical decorations.” Said the artist.
Meriel Hunt took inspiration from the role of bees in supporting ecosystems. Her BeeTree is made from sustainable wood and straw and is based on bees’ natural nesting preferences. After the exhibition, it will be placed into the wild at Harewood to encourage bees to use it as their home.
Roman Gods and Goddesses, Sphynxes, Nymphs, and Satyrs populate Harewood’s Neoclassical interiors. From here, set designer Simon Costin looked at ancient traditions and rituals that shaped the iconography of Christmas today and created a Christmas tree using salvaged antlers.
Across in the China Room, Juli Bolaños-Durman has collaborated with joiner Jonny Taylor to create a tree using re-purposed glass bottles and recycled wood from their community. “We hope you can connect to a childlike curiosity and the joy of Christmas as if the installation is a gift to unwrap.” Said Juli Bolaños-Durman.
Ashley Karrell has produced a poetic film titled Tales of the Winter Solstice. In the Main Library, the movie explores themes of the winter solstice through movement and spoken word. “This piece is about celebrating the ancestors, the spirits, the elements, dance, community, carnival, and the power of story.” [Photo at the end of the post].
Phoebe McElhatton has created a playful plasterwork installation, responding to the Robert Adam design of the ceilings in the Old Library, with sculpted elements evoking celebrations and feasting.
The Yellow Drawing Room has been transformed by Matt Galvin of Galvin Brothers, who has produced a playful, interactive seating installation using specially created vase elements that display winter florals and spruce. “We created this piece in early September, so it became a sober reflection upon the longevity and service of our late Sovereign, Queen Elizabeth II.”
Working with brass instruments, musician and composer Martin Green has collaborated with Opera North to create a new musical piece inspired by Harewood’s Gallery while also reinterpreting traditional festive sounds. The soundscape fills this vast room full of Renaissance paintings, where visitors are invited to take ownership of the space, creating a relaxing and joyful environment.
Long Live the Christmas Tree! culminates in a final work by Yasemen Hussein in the Music Room. A rotating Christmas tree sculpted from copper and adorned with contrasting crystals refracts light throughout the space. “I wanted to make my tree look ancient and godly, strong and powerful in the dark like my own imagined goddess from ancient folklore, my own tree spirit.”
Long Live the Christmas Tree! photos are by Tom Arber, courtesy of Harewood House.