The Wild Escape - Red Kites in Harewood!

The Wild Escape is a major creative project for museums and schools inspired by the wildlife found in museum and gallery collections (lead by ArtFund, funded by Arts Council England). The Yorkshire and North East Film Archives project ‘Nature Matters’ perfectly compliments this idea, because we are itching to celebrate our wonderful nature collections (including wildlife) with wider audiences.

As an archive with limited space for events and public activities, we decided it would be great to partner with a museum for the event. At an unrelated museum conference, a conversation was had with our sector colleagues at Harewood House (Leeds, West Yorkshire), who happened to be running their own event for The Wild Escape.

The focus of their activities (to take place during the Easter Holidays 2023) was the red kite, which is a type of bird-of-prey that famously came near to extinction in England; Harewood Estate were involved in the reintroduction programme of these birds in the North of England in 1999 (which proved successful!). The birds can still be seen flying around Leeds today.

The Easter activities involved the creation of your very own ‘red kite’ - a crafty toy kite that you can fly in the wind, but in the shape of the red kite bird! These workshops took place 1st-16th April, with the hopes of people returning on Earth Day weekend (22nd-23rd April) to fly their kites together in the grounds of Harewood Estate.

How did we get involved? Well, we knew we had some perfect footage which shows the very moments that the red kites were introduced at Harewood in 1999, from the TTTV programme ‘Wild North’. This made a great addition to the red kite-making workshop in the Education Suite over Easter, because visitors were given some more context to the historical significance of the birds in the region, through the power of archive film. Most of the workshops were at full capacity, and Harewood House received lots of positive feedback about their activities.