Press Story

21 June – 22 September 2022

Across Yorkshire Sculpture Park

Summer of Love is a series of events and projects taking place across Yorkshire Sculpture Park (YSP) that celebrates human relationships, understanding and love between people. Taking inspiration from the current exhibition Robert Indiana: Sculpture 1958–2018, the programme runs from the summer solstice to the autumn equinox.

As well as sparking moments of pure, joyful connection, Summer of Love will investigate the complexities of love and community: how we relate to one another, to ourselves, and to our environments.

Throughout his career, Robert Indiana made works that alluded to his sexuality as a gay man, but due to the criminalisation of homosexuality at the time these references had to be circumspect. Elements of the Summer of Love programme focus on LGBTQIA+ artists and consider how different and nuanced aspects of queer identity are expressed and represented in a contemporary context. An integral part of the programme is focused engagement work with a local Barnardo’s Positive Identities LGBTQIA+ youth group, led by YSP Learning.

In the Bothy Gallery, On Queer Ground (9 July – 4 September), presents powerful and poignant works by artists who explore the queer body and identity in relation to landscapes, both real and imagined. The exhibition features work by Claye Bowler, Whiskey Chow, Sadé Mica, Ro Robertson, SHARP, and RA Walden. Robertson’s sculpture Stone (Butch) (2021) will also be shown, set in a new dialogue with parkland surroundings following its recent display as part of Sculpture in the City in London. Welcoming people of all ages, a range of events throughout the summer includes family celebration days in July and August, creative workshops and family walks on the theme of love.

A number of other projects touching on themes around human connections, rights, prejudice, access, love and loss will unfold across the Summer of Love. Featured artists include Roger Hiorns, Thahmina Begum, Jordan McKenzie, YARA + DAVINA, and Wakefield-born Jason Wilsher-Mills, whose outdoor display Jason and his Argonauts in Love features an enormous inflatable sculpture.

Visual artist and illustrator Soofiya has been selected from an open call for an LGBTQIA+ artist to create a vinyl mural in the YSP Centre restaurant that celebrates the themes of Summer of Love, drawing together the many strands and sentiments of the programme.

(LGBTQIA+ is an acronym that encompasses people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer/questioning, intersex, asexual; the + refers to the many identities of sexuality and gender that are not cisgender and heterosexual.)

Ro Robertson: Stone (Butch)

From 21 June

Ro Robertson’s Stone (Butch) (2021) is part of a body of works exploring the terrain of the queer body in the landscape and was created by plaster casting directly in crevices in natural rock formations at Godrevy Point (St Ives Bay, Cornwall). This “sculptural void” makes physical a negative space created by the power of the sea. Stone (Butch) considers a “raincoat layer” of the body exposed to external forces inspired by lesbian and trans activist Les Feinburg’s novel Stone Butch Blues in which the oppression of lesbian, trans and butch and femme identity is laid bare.

Stone (Butch) is the first major open-air sculpture by an artist already recognised an important voice of their generation. First shown in an urban context as part of Sculpture in the City in London, the work now resonates with the natural landscape environment at YSP and begins a dialogue with new audiences. Robertson says: “To create a public sculpture as a Queer and non-binary artist and to position it in public space is to open up the conversation of who is represented via sculpture. Public sculpture has traditionally only represented a narrow demographic and a binary understanding of gender and I hope to be part of a new shift away from this.

On Queer Ground

Bothy Gallery
9 July – 4 September

Rural environments are frequently seen as existing in opposition to queerness, with urban spaces typically being more accepting places for LGBTQIA+ people. This exhibition looks at ways in which queer artists are re-connecting with the landscapes around them by mapping and navigating their queer identity within these places, seeking sanctuary and connection, and disrupting traditional or prescribed ways of looking and understanding. Several works involve solitary communion with vast uninhabited landscapes that offer a space to safely explore away from society’s gaze, yet there also often exists an inescapable suggestion of isolation and struggle.

Sadé Mica’s film work considers how their body is both freed and restricted within certain environments by “liberating myself and my limbs in the British countryside, posturing against vast landscapes foreign to me”. Mica visited YSP in April and will present a new work made on site. SHARP’s There will be no landing at the lighthouse tomorrow (2021) combines video, field recordings, spoken word and photography that connect moments in queer and personal histories via shifting landscapes. Ro Robertson uses sculpture, drawing and performance to explore boundaries of the human body and its environment. Their work embodies a space that is shifting and fluid, reclaiming a queer space in the natural landscape in opposition to rigid structures. Robertson will show a new performance to camera work connecting the body and the flux of the tidal zone. Claye Bowler’s film, Not Much Further (2020) visualises the “burden of dysphoria” and the wait for surgery through a walk on the moor. The plaster cast Bowler carries acts as a version of himself that is changeable and fragile. In you must everywhere wander 你必顧盼 (2021), Whiskey Chow combines filmed performance with CGI animation to transform a queer masculine body into an expansive fantasy landscape centred around ideas of care and the body as a homeland. RA Walden’s Crip Ecologies archives the artist’s limited involvement with the natural world due to their disability, positioning the fragility of the body in relation to the fragility of our ecosystems.

To create space for connection and expression within the Bothy Gallery and responding to the themes of On Queer Ground, YSP will host a series of weekly drop-in Stitched Stories workshops with textile artist Andi Walker.

Jason Wilsher-Mills: Jason and his Argonauts in Love

16 July – 16 October

Jason Wilsher-Mills uses iPads and Wacom tablets to create bright, celebratory and poignant works exploring themes of disability. His digital drawings are then translated into huge inflatable works or human-sized fibreglass sculptures. Colourful and bold, his works are acts of activism that are visually captivating and use their joyfulness to begin serious conversations.

The works on display at YSP were made in collaboration with learning-disabled groups across the country. Their stories are intertwined with the artist’s own across the surfaces of the sculptures, told through words and pictures. The central work is a 10-metre-long inflatable addressing basic human rights and respect, centred on access to Changing Places Toilets. Visitors can pass through a tunnel within the sculpture and read words from those with lived experience that convey the importance of this campaign. Wilsher-Mills highlights how, if we are to understand one other fully, we must acknowledge hierarchical systems of access and rights that are still not equal for everyone.

The artists’ figures are always covered with tattoo-like adornments, and frequently the word ‘love’. This acts a way to convey personal narratives and stems from the time when Wilsher-Mills was paralysed from the neck down as a child; his mum would paint on his face as this was something he could feel. For Wilsher-Mills these tattoos also connect with his background in a northern working-class family, where love was felt, though not necessarily stated in words, and often only found expression when inked into the skin.

The fibreglass sculptures will remain on display until 16 October, the inflatable sculpture will be on display until 4 September.

Roger Hiorns: A Retrospective View of the Pathway

6 August – 4 September

Roger Hiorns temporarily transforms the familiar YSP landscape with clouds of foam in this interactive artwork. At certain times of day, a compressor will generate vast clusters of bubbles that will blow across the landscape and be shaped by the wind, blurring boundaries between the parkland and the art, and allowing the environment and people involved to formulate each unique experience.

The artist is known for playing with ideas around what sculpture is and questioning what it can be. Although an encounter with this work is fleeting, it changes and refreshes our perspective on the physical world around us and how we relate to it. Hiorns creates a focal point around which people come together to experience joyful moments of fascination and pleasure, regardless of who they are or the differences that may exist between them. His use of foam stems from early childhood memories and connects with the innocence and liberation associated with play.

YARA + DAVINA: Arrivals + Departures

Outside the Boat House
22 July – 11 September

Arrivals + Departures is an interactive installation that explores life and love through our experiences of birth and death, two emotive moments that are common to us all no matter who we are, and which can evoke huge depths of feeling. Using the instantly recognisable form of a station or airport arrivals and departures board, the artwork invites the public to share names and celebrate a birth or commemorate a death.As global communities we have all been affected by the Covid-19 pandemic and experienced collective grief. War and racial and social injustice are topics at the forefront of the contemporary consciousness, and this seems a fitting moment to question who and how we commemorate. Arrivals + Departures proposes a level playing field where all the names put forward are recognised in the same way, regardless of who they are.

Thahmina Begum: Walk a Mile in My Shoes

Hayloft at Learning
2 – 7 August

Leeds-based artist and trainee art psychotherapist Thahmina Begum has designed a bespoke series of workshops to invite participants to consider our relationships with one another and how we perceive and are perceived by other people. Begum’s aim is to explore a broad spectrum of emotional responses, including “words of anger, grief, forgiveness, belonging, empathy and love” in order to find a place where we can acknowledge difference whilst focussing on what binds us together as human beings. Central to the workshops will be a sculptural piece by Begum around visualising social hierarchies in an increasingly polarised society and how these structures can impact how we feel.With lived experience of racism, Begum navigates and unpicks issues of difference and creates a safe space to discuss, reflect and come together. As well as being open to the public, invited groups, including the Barnardo’s Positive Identities LGBTQIA+ youth group working with YSP Learning, will participate.

Jordan McKenzie, Shame Chorus

Bloomberg Connects App and Project Space, Underground Gallery
Throughout Summer of Love

The feelings that arise from being forced to conceal your sexuality are a theme of McKenzie’s audio work Shame Chorus (2017). The artist refers to American writer Brené Brown who says that shame: “needs three things to grow... secrecy, silence and judgment”. These ideas of shame and secrecy resonate with issues that affected Robert Indiana’s own life.

Shame Chorus began with a desire to draw attention to high rates of depression and suicide in the LGBTQIA+ community. McKenzie worked with psychoanalyst Dr Susie Orbach, who interviewed members of the London Gay Men’s Chorus about coming out, and the effect this had on their mental health. He wanted to give voice to their stories and worked with leading musicians and composers to set these very personal narratives to music. The choir then performed these songs communally. This act transformed once lonely experiences through the cathartic act of singing. McKenzie says: “shame perpetuates silence. Shame Chorus comes from a need to tackle this silence head on, to empower and start a conversation about the difficulties we face and turn them into meaningful discussion and inspirational artistic experiences”.

Press enquiries

Elise Hammond, Sutton: +44 (0)20 7183 3577 |

Gemma Donovan, Communications Officer, YSP | +44 (0)1924 832 515 |