‘Towards Memorial’ – Yuen Fong Ling’s art project exploring the legacy of Edward Carpenter opens in Sheffield’s Yorkshire Art Space on 08 August 2019

Towards Memorial (2019), Yuen Fong Ling, film still by Picture Story Productions. Courtesy of the artist.

Platform 2019

Persistence Works, Yorkshire Art Space, 21 Brown Street, Sheffield S1 2BS

Friday 09 August to Sunday 01 September 2019 – with preview on Thursday 08 August, 6PM – 9PM

Exhibiting TOWARDS MEMORIAL (2019) by YUEN FONG LING

Part of Site Gallery’s Freelands Artist Programme

Towards Memorial (2019), Yuen Fong Ling, film still by Picture Story Productions. Courtesy of the artist.

Towards Memorial (2019), Yuen Fong Ling, film still by Picture Story Productions.

About Towards Memorial:

In a period of political and social uncertainty, how can what you wear help to express your beliefs and what you stand for? TOWARDS MEMORIAL is an art project that explores this question by remaking a pair of sandals designed and made by the socialist writer, poet and activist Edward Carpenter (1844-1929). During his lifetime, Carpenter sought to improve the living and working conditions of the working class. This included a greater awareness of, and openness to, our physical and spiritual relationship with others and the natural environment. Carpenter also supported equal rights for women, and championed new ways of defining homosexual / queer relationships and identities at a time when homosexuality was illegal, whilst living openly with his life-long partner George Merrill in Millthorpe, Sheffield.

The sandals have been initially gifted to members of The Friends of Edward Carpenter, a group of enthusiasts (and activists in their own right) who aim to commission a permanent public memorial to Carpenter in Sheffield city centre. This is where the project began to gain critical momentum. Can a pair of sandals be a form of public memorial when they are worn? Here, Carpenter’s biography and ideologies align with those activists who continue his legacy today, and the project recognises their contribution to the fight against injustice and the oppression of others, including LGBT+ rights and sexual health, Orgreave Truth and Justice Campaign, and Sheffield Trees. Standing in these sandals activates the stories, beliefs and struggles of the past, bringing them to life for each of us in the present day. Will you join in too?

The Carpenter Sandal can be purchased from Nobel & Wylie (Sheffield) and for every ten pairs sold, one will be gifted to an activist. 

Towards Memorial (2019), Yuen Fong Ling, film still by Picture Story Productions. Courtesy of the artist.

Towards Memorial (2019), Yuen Fong Ling, film still by Picture Story Productions.

About the Exhibition:

The exhibition will contain Towards Memorial (2019) a film in three chapters documenting the making, gifting and wearing of the Carpenter sandals, made in collaboration with Picture Story Productions. SELF 1892 (2019) a graphic brand and visual concept developed with designer Jon Cannon based on the remnants of the sandal’s prototype paper patterns, including product images by photographer Mark Howe, shot around the city centre of Sheffield. My Days with Carpenter (2018-ongoing) is a series of Edward Carpenter and related gay postcards (suggesting a visual evolution of political protest) worn by the artist and his boyfriend in their shoes throughout 2018/19.

Supported by: Making Ways, Sheffield Archives, Sheffield Hallam University’s Art and Design Research Centre, Arts Council England, Site Gallery (part of the Freelands Artist Programme) and Persistence Works. For more details and images call or email: Yuen Fong Ling on 07759329328 or Kirsty Young at Site Gallery.

About Platform 2019:

Platform 2019 highlights the work of five artists on The Freelands Artist Programme – a rolling five year initiative supporting two-year paid residencies for emerging artist in the Sheffield city region. The exhibition will include Zoyander Street, Lucy Vann, Sian Williams (Site Gallery), Yuen Fong Ling (Persistence Works) and Alison J Carr (Bloc Projects).


Yuen Fong Ling is an artist, researcher, and lecturer based in Sheffield. Completing his PhD at University of Lincoln in 2016, entitled A Body of Relations: Reconfiguring the Life Class, and Senior Lecturer in Fine Art at Sheffield Institute of Art, Ling is the recipient of the Freelands Artists Programme award 2018–20 hosted by Site Gallery. His practice explores issues of intersectional identities, historical omission, non-permanent forms of public memorial and socially engaged art practice, as the artist, model and curator.