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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 invited 11 artists, designers and makers to create “traditionally untraditional” Christmas trees that draw from the history and resources of the country house and its estate.

Stackings by Juli Bolaños-Durman
Juli Bolaños-Durman created Stackings, a tree-shaped tower of glass bottles

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

Each is on show within a different room inside Harewood House, creating playful juxtapositions with the lavish decoration of the historic interiors, which date back to the 18th century.

One Love by Hughbon Condor at Long Live the Christmas Tree exhibition at Harewood House
One Love by Hughbon Condor combines elements of different winter festivals

British set designer Simon Costin used antlers gathered from the Harewood Estate to create his tree, which is located in the Cinnamon Drawing Room.

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

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

Luna by Swallows & Damsons at Long Live the Christmas Tree exhibition at Harewood House
Swallows & Damsons created a giant wreath using “weeds”

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

Set designer Meriel Hunt combined oak, hazel and straw to create a tree-shaped house for bees, which will be relocated in the grounds after the exhibition closes.

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

“In the shadow of Harewood’s history of opulence and riches, where once no expense was spared to impress, show off and entertain, this wild wreath is composed of purely foraged materials some may call weeds,” said Swallows & Damsons founder Anna Potter.

“It has nuances that are seen by quietly contemplating, and scents that refresh and calmly embalm us with medicinal properties.”

Plaster Feast by Phoebe McElhatton
Plaster Feast by Phoebe McElhatton is adorned with food items and body parts

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

British designer Matthew Galvin, of the furniture brand Galvin Brothers, decided to drop the tree form altogether.

In the Yellow Drawing Room, he instead installed playfully crafted ash-wood benches that are adorned with tubes of dried flowers.

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

“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,” said Galvin.

The aim, he said, was to “explore and express some of those multifarious aspects of the Yuletide period – the rituals and the traditions, the associations and the memories – which seem so defined and historic, but also intangible, ethereal and transient.”

Ribbon Tree by Andy Singleton
Andy Singleton’s Ribbon Tree is made from paper

American artist Yasemen Hussein imagined a goddess of ancient folklore when designing her copper and crystal tree, while paper artist Andy Singleton has created a huge unfurling paper spiral.

The exhibition is completed by film and soundscape works intended to capture the spirit of the festive season.

Day of the Birth of the Unconquered Sun by Simon Costin
Simon Costin created his tree using salvaged antlers (also main image)

“Long Live the Christmas Tree presents a unique version of the classic winter pine and spruce by 11 wonderful artists,” said Jane Marriott, trust director at Harewood House.

“Harewood’s ambition is to be bold and sometimes untraditional in our approach to commissioning artists, so we are delighted with the diverse, unexpected, joyful, thoughtful, and creative installations across the house.”

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

The photography is by Tom Arber.

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