The Follies of Youth

The Follies of Youth is a collective of artists, designers and curators working with Pavilion to map heritage landscapes in West Yorkshire.

www.pavilion.org.uk

Corridor 8 - Abi Mitchell

Harold Offeh: Pinatopia and Mount Folly, Temple Newsam House, 17 March

Did you ever think you would bear witness to a troop of pineapples dancing in formation?

On a cloudy but bright evening in Leeds an expectant if slightly perplexed crowd encountered such a vision.

The exuberant revelry of Harold Offeh’s Pinatopia and Mount Folly not only embraced and enacted the history and grandeur of the pineapple, but also sought to connect and place it within the Temple Newsam landscape, designed by Capability Brown in the 1790s. The travels of the procession from the amphitheater to the hot houses demonstrated the journey of the tropical fruit from Brazil to the cold climates of Britain.

Pineapples, often described as ‘the king of fruit’, were grown in Temple Newsam in the 18th century. Large quantities of fuel and constant labor were required to attend the firewalls that enabled the pineapples to grow. The fact that these fruits were so exotic and difficult to grow meant that they were a symbol of wealth and power. This is a symbol no longer recognised, the pineapples presented to the spectators during the performance consciously left with their £1 price labels still attached.

The hedonistic finale of Harold’s Mount Folly directly responded to the site of Brown’s temple folly, which was not only a vantage point to view the house, but a space of decadence, debauchery and transgression. This use has been copied down the centuries, evident in the contemporary mistreatment of the folly which is graffiti covered, dilapidated and fenced off.

Harold’s Pinatopia and Mount Folly were produced by The Follies of Youth, a group of young producers, set up by visual arts commissioning organisation Pavilion, to research the heritage of Temple Newsam and run creative activity to engage youth groups and local people in East Leeds. The Follies of Youth chose to collaborate with Harold who had previously intervened in the 17th century gardens at Ham House, creating an installation and performance-based exhibition, which activated the history into a live, walking, talking spectacle.

There were two crucial points in The Follies of Youth’s research; first being the visit to the hot houses, which implemented an ongoing debate and discussion due to the notion of labor costs, class divides, colonialism and the exaggerated displays of wealth that stately homes imposed on others; second being Stanley Kubrick’s Barry Lyndon (1975) recommended by Patrick Eyres of The New Arcadian Journal. We invited Patrick to watch the film with us, and upon meeting him he gave such a wonderful and evocative introduction to the film that we all became enamored, subsequently asking him back to kindly give a reading at Mount Folly. Patrick’s reading revealed how spectacle and theatre were built into the 18th century garden; war, heritage, performance, parties, hunting, sport and frivolity all took place within it.

To read more on The Follies of Youth visit pavilionypp.tumblr.com Abi Mitchell is an artist and curator based in Leeds

Pinatopia and Mount Folly at Temple Newsam 

What a day of pineapple filled performance, art and heritage. The Follies of Youth events culminated on Sunday 17th March at Temple Newsam. Artist Harold Offeh led a procession of Young People dressed as pineapples, from day into dusk through the walled gardens and to the folly at Temple Newsam. Lights, music and dance stole the show, with 20 participants and 30 audience members to be part of a truly unique experience. 

Barry Lyndon Screening with an introduction by Dr Patrick Eyres, director of the New Arcadian Journal. 
The Follies of Youth were fortunate enough to have the privilege of a screening of the wonderful film Barry Lyndon, with a delightful introduction from Patrick Eyres. The film was used as research tool to expand our knowledge of the theatrical use of the 18th century garden.  

On the 23rd of Feb The Follies of Youth spent the morning taking photos at Temple Newsam and Faith has produced this amazing film of the day. We were each given different phrases related to key topics for the project, such as power, escapism and wealth then explored the house and grounds to take pictures relating to the words. The group took some fantastic images and will be documenting Harold’s performance on the 17th- we can’t wait!

To see  the photos from the day’s workshop check out our new flickr page and let us know what you think.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/93565857@N08/

Flyer by Joel Colover and Chrish Dunne 

The Follies of Youth Flyer 

Group Meeting with Harold Offeh, 6 Feb 2013

Written by Sibyl Fisher

Following the film screening and discussion led by Patrick Eyres of the New Arcadian Journal the previous week, Harold walked us through the ideas that have been sustaining his interest and curiosity. Scott helped structure the meeting by asking Harold questions about his practice.

For Harold, key concepts are:

  1. Garden as a theatrical space

    • Initial links with Celine Condorelli’s commission

    • And Harold’s past work on The Garden of Reason at Ham House

  2. Garden as a “theatre of productivity”

    • The idea/practice of replicating images within a landscape

    • ‘Bucolic’, the pastoral, the idyllic

    • Kubrick’s use/taking cues from Romantic paintings in Barry Lyndon- trace a line from Greek mythology through Romantic painting to photography and film

  3. Tableaux” and “tableau vivant”

  4. High capitalism

    • The history of private companies and trade in the age of exploration

    • The South Sea Bubble- the first (global-scale?) economic boom and bust where the landed gentry lost whole fortunes

    • Radio 4 program on the South Sea Bubble here http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b01pcs5g

    • The effects of capitalism

  5. Patriotic planting (of trees)

    • A notion taken up enthusiastically by the upper classes, to help provide timber for the Royal Navy

    • Ideas of empire and dominance

    • Harold told us about Accra Hearts of Oak, the oldest football club in Ghana (this is their logo with the oak)

      image

      We talked about how the international spread of these motifs was down to the reach and dominance of the British empire

This led into a group discussion that lasted for a good hour, covering the following topics and more.

Martha suggested the idea of the South Sea Bubble bust might be an interesting parallel with the current age of austerity

Poverty in the UK and the riots in 2011- class and race

Read about historian David Starkey’s provocative claims on Newsnight here http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2011/aug/15/david-starkey-newsinght-race-remarks

Harold recommends Owen Jones’s book Chavs: The Demonization of the Working Class

Harold interested generally in ideas of ‘youth’ – different subcultures

Materialism/consumerism of youth, proximity of rich and poor (still thinking of the riots), aspiration (thinking about what people were looting)

Provisional thinking about the directions for artworks/performances

  • Pineapples- as a trope, the pineapple sits at the intersection of lots of relevant themes, e.g. labour, exoticism

  • Folly- idea of mischief

  • Fence as a screen, not just a barrier (this is a bit deconstructive, i.e. turning things inside out, questioning the order of things)

  • Different groups of people- i.e. users of the garden, who has access to the space

    • This led to a discussion of how many different types of people there are using the space, and the fact that they would have their own routines/rituals. They probably don’t ever communicate/deviate from their plans

    • This led to talk about the volume of people doing the same thing at any one time

    • Mapping / re-enacting these activities?

    • Harold keen to make mischief with these groups

  • Harold’s example of the short-lived Guggenheim in Las Vegas, where Liza Minelli had done an audio-guide on Andy Warhol’s work, which was not at all art historical, but fascinating and fun

We watched some Busby Berkeley (horrifying, chirpy, hilarious): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TLsTUN1wVrc

And looked at some artworks that deal with themes like ours, including subversive wallpaper by Timorous Beasties.

image

We also talked about more shady/illegal/mysterious/sexual uses of country house landscapes, both today and in the eighteenth century.

Prints and text by Rachel Worthington 

Using the map images from our visit to the West Yorkshire Archive I have  been using a cyanotype photography technique to create some prints. I wanted to create these as a way of thinking practically about the project. 

Written by Freya Jewitt. 
East Leeds FM Radio Show
On the 5th of February Rachel and I visited East Leeds FM to talk about the project and do a shout out to listeners to get involved. East Leeds FM is a community radio station that offers young people the opportunity to get experience in all aspects of radio production, as well as promoting local live music and the many other positive things going on in East Leeds. It was a fantastic opportunity, if nerve racking experience, to be on the Tuesday Night Takeaway and we received a really warm welcome. We talked about what Pavilion does, and how ‘Follies of Youth’ are looking for people aged 15-25 to get involved in an artistic project at Temple Newsam. This will involve workshops in February and culminate in an artistic event in March. The presenters were familiar with the small building you can see in the Temple Newsam landscape and were happy to learn that it is called a folly! Hopefully when we talk to more young people from East Leeds they will have some memories of the place. Before the show we also talked about how the folly would be a great space for a performance and the possibility of recording at Temple Newsam when the event takes place, as the radio station has portable equipment. It was a positive experience and we received a lot of enthusiasm that there would now be an art project happening in East Leeds.
For more info on ELFM or to listen to the podcast visit http://www.elfm.co.uk/
Written by Freya Jewitt. 
When we arrived at Temple Newsam we were treated to a tour of the house. Each room was crammed with fascinating details and as we walked through the house different objects, like the blue Chinese screen and lamps decorated with hunting dogs, stood out to us. The model of the landscape gardens and paintings of Francis Ingram also helped to bring to life our research into Capability Brown’s time at Temple Newsam and we were able to look out at the landscape from the house to see how it matched up with Brown’s plans. The undulating garden was intended to be seen from the viewpoint of the house, so that the residents could look out on their very own picturesque landscape. From the windows we saw the temple folly peeking through trees and we were keen to make our way up there to see it up close. On our walk up to the folly, we were intrigued by the sphinx gates which had been created by Brown and were curious to see where the famous Temple Newsam pineapples had been grown. Steven, the grounds manager, showed us how the hot houses had been kept warm, through fires in the walls that had to be stoked through the night by the estates gardeners. As we ascended through the trees up to the temple, Steven described how parts of the folly had been stolen and how it had become a site for graffiti. When the folly was built it would have probably been used as a place for the lady of the house to have tea after a stroll around the estate, now it seems it has become a place for local people to hang out and the tree next to the temple was carved with graffiti that clearly spanned many years. The evolving use of the space was a topic of much discussion, as contrasts between the house and garden, past and present, intentions and realities became apparent. While the landscape and house were unmistakably beautiful, these were also home to hidden narratives; of the people who created it and the local people who now use it. Our exploration of the garden was followed by a meeting where we learnt more about Harold’s artistic practice and met Shelly, the education officer at Temple Newsam. We reflected on our ideas and chatted about how the project was going to develop as we move forward to the culmination of an event in March produced with local young people.

Written by Freya Jewitt. 

When we arrived at Temple Newsam we were treated to a tour of the house. Each room was crammed with fascinating details and as we walked through the house different objects, like the blue Chinese screen and lamps decorated with hunting dogs, stood out to us. The model of the landscape gardens and paintings of Francis Ingram also helped to bring to life our research into Capability Brown’s time at Temple Newsam and we were able to look out at the landscape from the house to see how it matched up with Brown’s plans. The undulating garden was intended to be seen from the viewpoint of the house, so that the residents could look out on their very own picturesque landscape. From the windows we saw the temple folly peeking through trees and we were keen to make our way up there to see it up close. On our walk up to the folly, we were intrigued by the sphinx gates which had been created by Brown and were curious to see where the famous Temple Newsam pineapples had been grown. Steven, the grounds manager, showed us how the hot houses had been kept warm, through fires in the walls that had to be stoked through the night by the estates gardeners. As we ascended through the trees up to the temple, Steven described how parts of the folly had been stolen and how it had become a site for graffiti. When the folly was built it would have probably been used as a place for the lady of the house to have tea after a stroll around the estate, now it seems it has become a place for local people to hang out and the tree next to the temple was carved with graffiti that clearly spanned many years. The evolving use of the space was a topic of much discussion, as contrasts between the house and garden, past and present, intentions and realities became apparent. While the landscape and house were unmistakably beautiful, these were also home to hidden narratives; of the people who created it and the local people who now use it. Our exploration of the garden was followed by a meeting where we learnt more about Harold’s artistic practice and met Shelly, the education officer at Temple Newsam. We reflected on our ideas and chatted about how the project was going to develop as we move forward to the culmination of an event in March produced with local young people.

The group had their first meeting with artist Harold Offeh on 7th Jan 2013. 
Following the meeting here are some reflections. 
Written by Abi Mitchell
Humorous uncertain telling of the family tree,Brought it more to lifeOne persons actual thoughtsRather than historical accuracyCarved faces in almost every woodPanelled wall, door and tableHorned deer atop the banisterMounted horns adorning the entrance room.Small beds but large chairs,Seemingly un-described as to why.Model of plan, yet unfinished and massively changed landscape sitting outside it.Class divide, still presentEver present ownershipEncouraged involvementInvited audience“the whole world’s a stage”window as framing, stage boundarieslandscape as it’s own backdropCommunity driven“closed for private function”winding path, rolling hill, overgrown treesnaturalunwantednot picturesque?Forgotten folly, new use, new lifeStolen, brokenPerfect viewHot house wall, flaming hotPine apple form east Leeds,Not so exoticSphinx guarding, folly watching, Always presence of observation.Stolen pineapples, stolen slate roof,
Always something in demand. 
 

The group had their first meeting with artist Harold Offeh on 7th Jan 2013. 

Following the meeting here are some reflections. 

Written by Abi Mitchell

Humorous uncertain telling of the family tree,
Brought it more to life
One persons actual thoughts
Rather than historical accuracy
Carved faces in almost every wood
Panelled wall, door and table
Horned deer atop the banister
Mounted horns adorning the entrance room.
Small beds but large chairs,
Seemingly un-described as to why.
Model of plan, yet unfinished and 
massively changed landscape sitting 
outside it.
Class divide, still present
Ever present ownership
Encouraged involvement
Invited audience
“the whole world’s a stage”
window as framing, stage boundaries
landscape as it’s own backdrop
Community driven
“closed for private function”
winding path, rolling hill, 
overgrown trees
natural
unwanted
not picturesque?
Forgotten folly, new use, new life
Stolen, broken
Perfect view
Hot house wall, flaming hot
Pine apple form east Leeds,
Not so exotic
Sphinx guarding, folly watching, 
Always presence of observation.
Stolen pineapples, stolen slate roof,

Always something in demand. 

 

Inventory

I (Rachel) have begun to compose an inventory of all the documents that have been viewed and visited as part of this project. 

This shall be a working progress through out the project. 

Celine Condorelli’s exhibition ‘Additionals’ – Installed in TV studio at Leeds university - starting point for young people’s project  

Heritage Lottery Funding Application – Extensive funding application, needed to run project with, WON, written by Linzi Stauvers, Gill Park, contributions from Rachel Worthington, Sibyl Fisher, others at entail meeting at TV studio 

Follies of Youth – Working title of project – idea born

Harold’s questions –

What is the history of the gardens? Why were they commissioned?
What’s the background to Capability Brown’s design?
What was the purpose of the gardens? What happened in the gardens?
Why was the little Temple (folly) built? How was it used?
What’s Temple Newsam’s relationship with the surrounding area and community?
How do people who live near it view it?

Art Review feature – Text from Art Review magazine written including information about Harold Offeh

Temple Newsam – House, Large, Council owned, large collection of stuff, clutter, storage space

Temple Newsam – Grounds, 915 arces, large, animals, hot house, walled garden, folley, M1,

3D model of Capability Brown plans for Temple Newsam grounds - £10,000 to make, large, insightful ideas of what the grounds could have looked like, had they been finished

Work and Play booklet – key information for why Brown was brought into the house

Maid and Mistresses booklet

Leeds Calendar Booklet – had images of an underground passage into the house

Letters from Lady Frances Irwin – Transcribed by James Lomax, Brownification, original in Kew gardens

Image of gardener dressed as Capability Brown – the group laughed at this idea - part of work and play exhibition

Portrait of Irwins – Grand Hall, Large almost life size, grand, imposing, insightful of times 

Painting of garden before Brown was there – Wolfgang…?

First view of gardens from inside the house

Capability Brown’s proposal for changes to East Wing of house – cheaper local architect used, used Brown’s plans pretty much

Photocopied receipts for workers and materials

Capability Brown and the Northern landscape

Print of painting – Pastoral Landscape by Claude Lorraine, original privately owned

Print of painting – Frances Shephard (Viscount Irwin) by Benjamin Wilson

‘The scene always enchants me’

The Park and Gardens at Temple Newsam

Work and Play: The Ornamental Landscape 2

Meeting and notes – Sibyl Fisher and Freya Jewitt

Powerpoint presentation – The Follies of Youth

Minutes from meeting by Ruchi Mittal

New Arcadian Journal – A5 a range of coloured covers, beautiful booklet about gardens, lovely illustrations and insightful text covering a variety of gardens

West Yorkshire Archive

Map of Capability Brown proposed landscape – photocopy and original – original much more interesting, reluctant to get it out for us, photography and copyright issues, surely it is council property? Old, fragile, large, scale of 1-100, 2 tables required to unroll the whole thing, Folley called a rotunda, almost like papaya paper

Documents from who lived in the grounds around Temple Newsam – old, fragile but not kept very safe, some of them muddled

Deeds to House and Grounds belonging to Frances Irwin – original and transcribed – long and detailed

Meeting with Harold Offeh

Martha Wright – Girl – age unknown – graduate in English and art history

Walk round garden

Sypnix in gardens entrance – typical of time showing that the houses are well travelled

Powerpoint by Harold Offeh – Garden of Reason his latest project

Tour of house – Adrian – Did they group remember the tour or what he brought to the tour more? He knew alot about the M1

Prince’s Room – Disappointment for Scott, Capability Brown used this room to plan the grounds

Still Room – A room which was part of the servants’ quarter

Walk around grounds – group and Steven

Folley – graffiti – large – stolen slate, invisible fence, run down, great view to house

Hot Houses – pineapples, best in Europe

Walled Garden – going to grow fruits and vegetables again

Flyer – Scott, recruitment for young people 

West Yorkshire Archive Visit

Written by Sibyl Fisher. Photos to follow pending copyright clearance. 

Rachel and I (Sibyl) visited the West Yorkshire Archive in Morley, south of Leeds, on 3 January.

The online catalogue only listed a few items connected with Temple Newsam, so we were expecting slim pickings.  However the items we did consult were actually really rich, in terms of what they evidenced.

The most spectacular was the 1762 map drawn up by Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown himself, detailing his visions for the Temple Newsam landscape.  We studied both the original and the reproduction, which was produced in conjunction with the model landscape made at the instigation of James Lomax, former curator at Temple Newsam.  The thing that struck us about these maps was both the size of the grounds and the level of Brown’s precision.  We did not realise the sheer scale of the estate in Lady Frances Irwin’s day.  The house is so small, and the folly even smaller, a tiny circle (interestingly not a square or rectangle, which is the form in which it was finally realised).  Nor could we make total sense of the detail that Brown had planned.  Trying to derive a deep understanding of Brown’s visions from these maps is like trying to learn anatomy from a drawing of the body.  To the layperson, the decisions Brown made seem almost arbitrary, especially without contour lines.  Big patches of forest, the specific shape of future lakes: all of these were laid out painstakingly but with no clear rationale.

I myself am an active member of a local Yorkshire orienteering club (AIRE, which covers Temple Newsam), and there is a vast difference between orienteering maps that describe the lay of the land in intimate detail, and the one by Brown which maps something imaginary. 

My art historical interest in landscape painting as something akin to mapping, but emphatically not mapping, helps to cut Brown’s maps loose from expectations that his visions be systemic.  The landscape designer is in one sense an artist, with a degree of freedom.  The maps are hypothetical, but also as drawings have probably been worked and reworked, with chance and responsiveness to the materiality of the background (etc) no doubt playing a role in the process of drawing.  But the landscape designer is not only an artist: Brown’s work would have had a strong reliance on certain grammars, training, knowledge systems and so on. 

Being in the Temple Newsam landscape after our archive visit did make it familiar again, because it is so naturalistic.  But now we had this extra puzzle piece in mind, that had revealed its pre-planned and hyper-contrived dimension.  I think the intelligibility of the eighteenth landscape is an ongoing theme in our project as it unfolds: who can see what Brown saw?  Could anyone?

Other archival materials that we consulted included A Particular of Copyhold Lands and Tenements Purchased by the Late Viscountess Irwin with the times when & purchase monies.  This is a description of the Temple Newsam grounds from 1782, another format by which to represent the landscape.

We also consulted an inventory of repairs made to buildings on the Temple Newsam estate, made in 1771.  All manner of crofts and cottages were listed as requiring repair for their windows, door frames and so on.  Who lived or worked in them?  We read their names: Richard Walker, Joseph Oldred and his ‘widdow’, among others. 

  

Finally we consulted a list of tenants on the Temple Newsam estate in the eighteenth century.  This was a very long list of names, some annotated as ‘poor’.  Rachel and I still can’t fully fathom what the purpose of this marking out meant.  It seems at once like branding, an act of violence, as well as a note-to-self for the purpose of jogging the writer’s memory, and therefore very personal.  We wondered about the genealogy of these names too—which surnames are still local ones in the area? 

Research into the project lead us to the valuable resource, The New Arcadian Journal at the Henry Moore Institute Library.

Research into the project lead us to the valuable resource, The New Arcadian Journal at the Henry Moore Institute Library.

Landscape model with James Lomax