Artist Harold Offeh used the eighteenth century landscape of Temple Newsam as a stage for two performances: Pinatopia and Mount Folly. Working in collaboration with The Follies of Youth – a collective of young producers studying in Leeds – Offeh drew inspiration from the historic grounds and its contemporary use by the community. Local young people, aged 15-25, living in East Leeds were invited to take part in a one-off workshop and public performance with Harold Offeh on Sunday 17 March 2013.
Offeh’s Pinatopia is an ostentatious display of wealth and power, with roots in empire and capitalism, centred on the pineapple as a status symbol in the eighteenth century. Through a playful spectacle, reminiscent of Carmen Miranda's exuberant carnivalesque performance in The Gang's All Here (1943), Offeh exchanges the modern banana for the baroque pineapple that was historically grown in hot houses at Temple Newsam.
Having had a of taste Pinatopia in the walled garden, at dusk, audiences will be escorted from the walled garden towards the ornamental temple to bare witness to the second stage of the project Mount Folly.
The folly at Temple Newsam was initially built for decorative purposes, designed by Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown in the 1790s to recall the temple ruins of the Greek Arcadia, it served as a space of escapism. Mount Folly projects historical and fantastical imagery onto the ruinous backdrop of folly which, cordoned off and covered in graffiti, continues to house acts of hedonism and transgression.
The event marks the beginning of The Follies of Youth, an ambitious programme of historic research and artistic activity led by young people at Temple Newsam, with visual arts organisation Pavilion. The programme seeks to explore and learn from the ruinous and unfinished Temple Newsam landscape by Capability’ Brown. The programme will question the need to conserve and to celebrate the landscape in time for Capability Brown's tercentenary in 2016.