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The Source

Ro Robertson



Ro takes deep inspiration from particular places and connections with nature and people. This installation is especially for here and rooted in research and drawing. This artwork was made with curved sheets of Cor-ten steel and is painted with colours associated with water.

The Source will take the form of a 20-metre long sculptural walkway and garden. Taking visual inspiration from the movement of water, this ambitious new work will highlight local history and environmental factors, and connect with the subject of healing. It has been developed specifically for the site of The Springs, one of the main public transport and pedestrian routes through Wakefield, which was previously the site of freshwater springs.

Until 1837, the sole sources of water in the city were springs, wells and streams, and the site would have been used as a daily watering hole and place of healing. Robertson has worked in collaboration with Katy Merrington (Cultural Gardener, The Hepworth Wakefield) and Amy Langron (Landscape Architect and Director, Hortus Collective) to develop a planting plan selection that focusses on movement, structure, and sensory elements with the aim of providing a space where people can feel encompassed by nature.



The Wakefield district is one of Yorkshire’s leading cultural destinations. The city is known especially for sculpture, being the birthplace of Barbara Hepworth and Henry Moore. It is the only city outside London to have two Art Fund Museums of the Year: The Hepworth Wakefield and Yorkshire Sculpture Park.

The Source is part of a series of sculptures for the city, commissioned in 2023. The series offers a unique opportunity for everyone to experience and enjoy world-class art. Each artist has created a work especially for the place, its history and communities.

Wakefield Sculpture Trail


Ro Robertson (they/them) (b. Sunderland 1984) is a contemporary artist based in West Cornwall. Robertson’s practice spans sculpture, drawing, painting and video, mediums through which they explore the boundaries of the human body and its environment.

Robertson works site specifically, often outdoors, with a multi-sensory focus on the body in the landscape. Unity between the material of the natural landscape and the body reclaims a space for LGBTQ+ identity against a history of being deemed ‘against nature’. Physical explorations of the natural landscape feed into ‘automatic’ abstract drawings and short mediative video works. Robertson’s large-scale sculptures embed the fluidity of this cyclical practice into rigid and industrial materials such as Corten steel and marine paint, materials that bridge their family heritage of ship building and their sculptural practice.

Robertson’s public sculpture Drench, inspired by the energy of the tidal zone, was exhibited in Regent’s Park, London as part of Frieze Sculpture 2022 curated by Clare Lilley. Robertson’s first public sculpture Stone (Butch) was installed at London’s iconic Gherkin skyscraper 2021-22, commissioned for the 10th edition of Sculpture in the City. Stone (Butch) is now installed at Yorkshire Sculpture Park, Wakefield, where is it part of the permanent collection. Past solo presentations include Torsos, Maximillian William, London and Subterrane, Maximillian William, London. Past group exhibitions include Behind abstract forms, Fragment, New York; On Queer Ground, Yorkshire Sculpture Park, Wakefield; Seen, Newlyn Art Gallery and The Exchange; Into Abstraction, The Hepworth Wakefield, Wakefield and Exploratory Drawings, Maximillian William, London. Works by Robertson are also held in the collection of the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts, The Hepworth Wakefield and Leeds Museums & Galleries (Leeds Art Gallery). Robertson’s work is currently on view in the group exhibition TRICKSTER FIGURES: sculpture and the body curated by Jes Fernie at MK Gallery, Milton Keynes and We Are Floating In Space, Newlyn Art Gallery and The Exchange, Newlyn / Penzance. In September 2023, Robertson will be included in a group presentation at The Leslie-Lohman Museum of Art, New York curated by Gemma Rolls-Bentley. Ro Robertson will be creating a new installation at Tate St Ives in late 2023 as part of the Modern Conversations displays

The Springs was a daily watering hole and site for related healing customs until 1837. This 20-metre-long sculptural walkway and garden is a place to gather, rest and reconnect to nature. Its shape is inspired by drawings I made of the River Calder and the movement of water above and below the surface.


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