Press Story

Participatory installation
22-26 October 2021, Bothy Gallery

“Matty Bovan is one of the brightest names on the British fashion scene.”

The New York Times

Announced in 2021 as the winner of both the International Woolmark Prize and the Karl Lagerfeld Award for Innovation, leading fashion designer Matty Bovan will take over the Bothy Gallery at Yorkshire Sculpture Park, to create an immersive, participatory, art installation that raises timely questions about identity and who controls it.

Visitors to YSP can participate by booking onto a session, that will last around 30 minutes. They will enter an immersive environment created by Bovan and collaborators, including fabric illustrated by young people as part of the Woven Festival in Kirklees, summer 2021. Participants will choose from a range of sculptural, wearable, items created by Matty Bovan. They will be encouraged to consider their image in a mirror, behind which an unseen photographer will capture their images. At a time when the average concentration of an artwork or image is three seconds, participants will be encouraged to engage with Bovan’s wearable artworks for a minimum of 10 minutes, in an attempt to construct a new self-image that will be captured in a unique way, blurring sculpture, fashion and photography.

Participants will be required to hand over their digital devices for secure storage on arrival and will not be allowed to take their own photos, as the project will be documented with a collection of images that will only be used in a printed publication and never shared online. By doing so, Bovan is drawing attention to the fact that most of us are already willing participants in the distribution of our images and image online to the unseen masses.

Boomerang questions the construction of identity, authorship and ideas of personal ‘brand’ in the age of social media, where over 95 million images are posted on Instagram every day. The image-led social network, which is owned by Facebook, states in its terms that the user grants ‘non-exclusive, fully-paid and royalty-free, transferable, sub-licensable, worldwide license to use their content’. Anyone who has been tagged in a Facebook photograph has already agreed to their face being recognised by an algorithm, for example. Facebook also owns a patent to identify people who have been photographed by the same camera, based on its dust marks, in order to suggest friends of friends – leading commentators to suggest that we ‘need to have a big collective think about what we want from the world of big data and AI, towards which we are currently sleepwalking’. (John Lanchester ‘Document Number Nine’ in London Review of Books 10.10.19).

Bovan has already established an internationally-respected fashion practice, and will participate in London Fashion Week online on Friday 17 September 2021, following a number of London Fashion Week collections that reveal his interest and research into social behaviours and phenomena, such as the Pendle Witch Trials. Based in Yorkshire, Bovan has acknowledged YSP as being a formative influence and undertook a research residency in the National Arts Education Archive in 2019, and so it is fitting that the organisation can support and share this significant project.

Matty Bovan: Boomerang

22-26 October 2021
Bothy Gallery, YSP

Tickets to participate in Boomerang can be booked via

Tickets are free, but you must have purchased a YSP entry ticket to visit for that day at

About Matty Bovan

Having grown up in York, where he is still based, Matty Bovan graduated from Central Saint Martins in 2015 with an MA specialising in Fashion Knitwear. His 12-look graduate collection opened the final show, exhibiting his cacophony of sculptural knits, textures and wild, handmade adornments, which earned him the L’Oréal Professionel Creative Award, closely followed by the LVMH Graduate Prize 2015, going on to work with Marc Jacobs and Miu Miu. He has worked with various brands, including: Coach NY, Gina, Louis Vuitton, Miu Miu, Stephen Jones Millinery, M.A.C Cosmetics, and Miller Harris, and his work is worn by a loyal fanbase, including Adwoa Aboah, Björk, Rita Ora, Georgia May Jagger, Winnie Harlow, Daisy Lowe, and Efie Reigate.

Bovan is a recipient of the BFC NEWGEN bursary for the second time, supporting his Spring/Summer and Autumn/Winter 2020 shows, and has been nominated twice for Emerging Designer Womenswear at the Fashion Awards 2018 and 2019. British Airways recently launched Made by Matty Bovan, a love letter to his late grandmother, illustrating his appreciation of craftsmanship and British heritage, part of their The BA 100, celebrating 100 makers of Modern Britain.

In September 2018, he collaborated with artists Rory Mullen and Adam Leach to create a fully-immersive, site-specific installation comprising video projections, live performance and sculpture, within the Leeds Room at the London Design Biennale at Somerset House. Entitled Just/Unjust, it was inspired by a carved wooden chimneypiece depicting the Dance of Death in The Red Drawing Room at Burton Agnes Hall, an Elizabethan manor house near Bovan’s home and studio in Yorkshire. London’s Design Museum nominated a tweed and tulle gown, topped off with a Stephen Jones for Matty Bovan balloon-festooned headpiece, a finale look from his Autumn/Winter 2018 show, for inclusion in their Beazley Designs of the Year 2018 exhibition.