Long Live the Christmas Tree exhibition opens at Harewood House

Long Live the Christmas Tree, an exhibition of unconventional Christmas installations, has opened at Harewood House in West Yorkshire, England.

The country house has invited 11 artists, designers and makers to create “traditionally non-traditional” Christmas trees that draw on the history and resources of the country house and its estate.

Juli Bolaños-Durman created Stackings, a tower of glass bottles in the shape of a tree

Results include tree-like installations made from materials including deer antlers, carnival costumes and weeds.

Each is showcased within a different room within Harewood House, creating playful juxtapositions with the lavish decoration of the historic interior, which dates back to the 18th century.

Hughbon Condor's One Love at the Long Live the Christmas Tree exhibition at Harewood House
Hughbon Condor’s One Love combines elements of several winter festivals

British production designer Simon Costin used antler collected from the Harewood Estate to create his tree, which can be found in the Cinnamon Drawing Room.

In the State Dining Room, costume designer Hughbon Condor has combined elements from different winter festivals and celebrations to create a tree that celebrates cultural diversity.

“You may see elements of your own celebration immediately, but you may require closer observation to see other celebrations,” she said.

Luna by Swallows & Damsons at the Long Live the Christmas Tree exhibition at Harewood House
Swallows & Damsons Created Giant Wreath Using ‘Weeds’

Many of the designers have worked with natural or recycled materials.

Production designer Meriel Hunt combined oak, hazel and straw to create a tree-like house for the bees, which will be relocated to the park after the exhibition closes.

Meanwhile, florist Swallows & Damsons has created a giant wreath using mostly mugwort and honesty.

“Shaded by Harewood’s history of opulence and wealth, where no expense was once spared to impress, show off and entertain, this wild wreath is made from purely foraged materials that some might call weeds,” said Anna Potter , founder of Swallows & Damsons.

“It has nuances that are seen in silent contemplation and scents that refresh and calmly embalm us with medicinal properties.”

Phoebe McElhatton plaster party
Phoebe McElhatton’s Plaster Feast is adorned with food and body parts

A plaster cast by sculptor Phoebe McElhatton resembles a church spire, decorated with food and body parts, while Costa Rican artist Juli Bolaños-Durman created a tree-shaped tower out of old glass bottles.

British designer Matthew Galvin, of the Galvin Brothers furniture brand, has decided to ditch the tree shape altogether.

In the yellow living room, he instead installed playfully crafted ash wood benches adorned with tubes of dried flowers.

Of Happy Memory by Galvin Brothers at the Long Live the Christmas Tree exhibition at Harewood House
Of Happy Memory by the Galvin Brothers is a series of benches topped with dried flowers

“We created this piece in early September, so it has become a sober reflection on the longevity and service of our late Sovereign, Queen Elizabeth II,” Galvin said.

The aim, he said, was “to explore and express some of those many aspects of the Christmas season – the rituals and traditions, associations and memories – that seem so definite and historic, but also intangible and ethereal and transient.”

Andy Singleton's Tape Tree
Andy Singleton’s tape tree is made out of paper

American artist Yasemen Hussein imagined a goddess from ancient folklore when she designed her copper and crystal tree, while paper artist Andy Singleton created a huge paper spiral that unwinds.

The exhibition is complemented by film and sound works intended to capture the spirit of the holiday season.

The Day the Unconquered Sun was Born by Simon Costin
Simon Costin made his own tree using reclaimed antlers (also main image)

“Long Live the Christmas Tree features a unique take on the classic winter pine and spruce by 11 wonderful artists,” said Jane Marriott, trustee director of Harewood House.

“Harewood’s ambition is to be bold and sometimes non-traditional in our approach to commissioning artists, so we delight in the diverse, unexpected, joyful, thoughtful and creative installations throughout the home.”

Long Live the Christmas Tree takes place from 12 November to 5 January 2022 at Harewood House. Consult the Dezeen Events Guide for an up-to-date list of architecture and design events taking place around the world.

Photography is by Tom Arber.

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