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‘REPRESENTATION OF African Caribbean people at Harewood is an imperative,’ says Dr Arthur France MBE, whose image will be the first commission of a series entitled ‘Missing Portraits‘.
Part of the Harewood House ‘Open History programme’, the commission of a new series of photographic portraits specially commissioned by the Earl and Countess of Harewood, David Lascelles and Diane Howse, Missing Portraits 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 family’s history.
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.
Born in Nevis in 1935, Dr France arrived in Leeds in 1957 to join his sister, Elaine, who had emigrated some years earlier. He has been very active in Leeds community and political life and one of his most lasting achievements has been founding the Leeds West Indian Carnival in 1967.
The portrait of Dr 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 Arthur’s 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, the exhibit contextualises Dr France’s life through the experiences of the Caribbean community in Leeds since the 1950s.
Installed across four rooms on Harewood’s State Floor, Arthur France: Son of a Small Island will feature a display inspired by Dr France’s own living room.
A collection of objects and memorabilia on loan to the Trust will be on view including a cricket ball presented to Dr France by renowned cricketer, Sir Viv Richards, and a signed cricket bat from the West Indies tour of England in 2000.
There will also be an installation celebrating Arthur’s role in the foundation of Leeds West Indian Carnival, its history rooted in the resistance and emancipation of enslaved Africans in the Caribbean.
The display will feature a costume designed by Dr France for the 50th anniversary of Leeds West Indian Carnival in 2017. He has designed a costume every year as part of the celebrations.
Lascelles and Howse, Earl and Countess of Harewood, said: “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 Harewood’s 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 Arthur’s 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 France said: “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 everyone’s understanding of our shared history, and in representing the people who enabled this place to come into being.”
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The Voice Newspaper is committed to celebrating black excellence, campaigning for positive change and informing the black community on important issues. Your financial contributions are essential to protect the future of the publication as we strive to help raise the profile of the black communities across the UK. Any size donation is welcome and we thank you for your continued support.
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