In the frame: Art’s lovers

Moments of joy and connection are the focus of the Summer of Love – a programme of events and displays taking over Yorkshire Sculpture Park

Hero image

From the summer solstice to the autumn equinox, Yorkshire Sculpture Park is exploring the complexities of love and human relationships through its Summer of Love series.

Inspiration for this event has been taken from the current exhibition of sculptures by Robert Indiana, who made works that hinted at his sexuality as a gay man while making sure it was as muted as possible because homosexuality was criminalised at the time.

Jason Wilsher-Mills is just one of the artists whose work is featuring at YSP and who hasn’t made any effort to hide the themes of love and compassion.

Wilsher-Mills’s Jason and his Argonauts in Love project is anything but muted – his colourful and joyful drawings on iPads are transformed into huge inflatable works and human-sized sculptures.

“Artists tend to be a bit insular,” he says – yet he’s been creating his sculptures in collaboration with learning disability groups all over the country for the past five years. They have helped give him a voice – his argonauts.

“The whole idea of the work I create now is it really encapsulates the idea of what love is because what I saw when I worked in these communities was people, particularly carers, just constantly giving of themselves and being really loving,” says the Wakefield-born artist.

“I’m a Northerner from very much a working-class background and I grew up seeing people with ‘love’ tattooed on their fists – blokes who were really masculine.

“My sculptures are adorned with tattoos about disability advocacy. I’ll even have stuff about equal access to toilets on the forearm of my characters.”

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Wilsher-Mills is a self-confessed “Trojan horse artist” who tries to incorporate politics within his work without being overt, so as to not scare off people wanting to enjoy his sculptures.

“My works are really humorous but they’ve got a really serious centre to them because I think the worst thing you can do to somebody who comes along to a gallery is shout at them,” he says.

“One of the best things you can do is make them smile and laugh, and once you’ve got that you’ve got an in, because people are conned into thinking it’s really innocuous, simple and funny, like stuff you see on a fairground – it’s political without being shouty.”

Other projects being displayed around YSP this summer explore different interpretations of the theme of love.

Yara El-Sherbini and Davina Drummond use formats from popular culture to create accessible and playful art. Their Arrivals and Departures interactive installation uses the familiar arrivals and departures board on which people can share names to commemorate a birth or death.

This installation particularly hits home as travel was abruptly stopped during the Covid-19 pandemic, meaning a lot of relationships were moved online without actual human interaction – births and deaths happened without any real commemoration.

Wilsher-Mills’s exhibition is on 16 July-4 September. Arrivals and Departures is on display 22 July-14 August. Other artists’ interpretations of love are displayed around Yorkshire Sculpture Park throughout the summer (

If you liked this article, we think you’ll enjoy these:

Interact: Responses to In the frame: Art’s lovers

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published.