LEEDS.- Harewood House
continues its Open History programme with the commission of a new series of photographic portraits specially commissioned by the Earl and Countess of Harewood, David Lascelles and Diane Howse, titled Missing Portraits. The first portrait in the series is of local community activist and the founder of Leeds West Indian Carnival, Dr Arthur France MBE.
Produced by Leeds-based photographer and filmmaker Ashley Karrell, the portrait is inspired by the formal style of portraiture used in depictions of the Lascelles family since the 18th century. The portrait will be displayed as a key part of the permanent collection at Harewood House, as the Lascelles family work with Harewood House Trust to continue to address the lack of diverse representation within its collection.
Arthur Frances portrait is the first commission of a series entitled Missing Portraits which seeks to redress the balance of portraits in the house by depicting sitters of African-Caribbean heritage who have connections to Harewood and the Lascelles familys history. The series seeks to address the historic lack of diversity within Harewoods collection, which currently does not include representations of any people of colour. Missing Portraits is part of Open History an ongoing commitment to promoting and celebrating equality, diversity and inclusion, and to combating racism. Harewoods programme engages Harewoods audiences by tackling urgent contemporary issues, working with artists to encourage understanding, celebrate diversity and explore Harewoods colonial past.
The portrait of Arthur France will be accompanied by an exhibition celebrating his life and contribution to the cultural life of Leeds. Arthur France: Son of a Small Island will tell Arthurs story from a boy growing up in the Caribbean island of Nevis to becoming one of the leading community figures in Leeds. Through a creative display of objects, text and images, Arthur France: Son of a Small Island contextualises Frances life through the experiences of the Caribbean community in Leeds since the 1950s.
Installed across four rooms on Harewoods State Floor, Arthur France: Son of a Small Island will feature a display inspired by Frances own living room. A collection of objects and memorabilia on loan to the Trust will be on view including a cricket ball presented to France by renowned cricketer, Sir Viv Richards, and a signed cricket bat from the West Indies tour of England in 2000.
Arthur France: Son of a Small Island will also include an installation celebrating Arthurs role in the foundation of Leeds West Indian Carnival, now one of Leeds most important annual cultural events, its history rooted in the resistance and emancipation of enslaved Africans in the Caribbean.
The display will feature a costume designed by France for the 50th anniversary of Leeds West Indian Carnival in 2017. France has designed a costume every year as part of the celebrations.
David Lascelles and Diane Howse, Earl and Countess of Harewood, comment: There are several hundred historic portraits in Harewood House. They are exclusively of white people from privileged backgrounds, mostly members of the Lascelles family. None feature people of colour. Missing Portraits aims to start to redress that balance by retro-fitting the collection with a series of images of men and women of colour who have a contemporary connection to Harewood.
Although there is nothing we can do to change Harewoods history and the source of the wealth that built it, we can be more open and inclusive in discussing it and therefore better able to represent the world we live in now. So we are delighted that the first portrait in this series is of our dear friend Dr Arthur France MBE a senior figure in the Leeds community and the founder of Leeds West Indian Carnival, the first of its kind anywhere in Europe. We hope that by sharing Arthurs story, and those of the portrait sitters that will follow, we can encourage positive discourse about our shared history and start to try to create a more equal society today.
Dr Arthur France MBE comments: I am delighted to be the first subject of this new Missing Portraits series commissioned by David Lascelles and Diane Howse for Harewood House. We have just celebrated the 55th anniversary of the Leeds West Indian Carnival which was launched not only as a celebration of Caribbean culture and heritage, but as a celebration of our forefathers and their emancipation. Representation of African Caribbean people at Harewood is an imperative in everyones understanding of our shared history, and in representing the people who enabled this place to come into being.