Where The Heart Is | An exhibition by Tim Etchells

By October 12, 2014

Art & Photography. Leeds.


I thought it’d be a good idea to bring a date (albeit a second one) to the unveiling of Sheffield-based Tim Etchells’ new installation ‘Where the Heart Is’.

We meandered up towards the infirmary on a lovely summers evening expecting, well, I don’t really know what we were expecting but something made with neon lighting. Arriving on time we were met by a dozen gentlemen and women, dressed to impress and wine in hand. Everyone seemed attentive and excited and I was worried (but not really) that I hadn’t worn a nice enough shirt. I’m pretty sure my date was worried (and actually worried) that she’d chosen jeans to the occasion.

Turns out the spread was pretty good: sun blushed tartlets and mini scotch eggs and there was a whole heap of free drink. I really like free drinks. We started wolfing pastry and Merlot down as quickly as possible (you never know when they’re going to call time on these things!) and began soaking in the end of the day’s sunlight.

Tim Etchells is an artist who lives in Sheffield, who studied in Sheffield and London and who has at some point been to some gigs in Leeds. He has produced a piece of public art in Leeds about the notion of ‘home’ and ‘belonging’. Can you see where I’m going with this?

Anyway, before Etchells’ piece was uncovered we listened to a couple of speeches by directors (of Project Space Leeds who commissioned the piece) and governing board members. It was all “we couldn’t have done it without so-and-so” and it was all very pleasant – I could see my date’s eyes wandering and I was just waiting for someone to pass me another glass of wine.

Finally as dusk approached this Lynchianly quiet carpark behind Leeds infirmary the installation was switched on. I say switched on because it’s a huge neon sign that says “WHERE THE HEART IS” in red lighting. On a new block of student accommodation. Get it?


Image 2


Well Tim Etchells himself explained the connotations of “home” and its placement on the student block but I wonder, to be perfectly frank, whether he really needed to. I feel at this point I don’t’ have to explain to you guys that he’s getting at “home” being “where the heart is”. Also the anotamical reference with regards to its placement at the infirmary rings through. It bothered me a touch that Etchells isn’t from Leeds and thus wasn’t perhaps as informed as one would have hoped about sticking a great big neon sign on top of an old hospital building. I don’t know.

The piece itself is aesthetically pleasing (I find that about all things neon with the darkness behind it) and it’s great that Leeds council is behind installations and artwork in the city. We’re actually pretty lucky here with installations and temporary galleries popping up all year round, the piece’s only real flaw as art is that it’s located somewhere that most people just won’t be able to find or have any reason to walk by.

The evening was pleasant. The 24 people there were lovely, the food was nice and I made friends with the waiters and thus got me and my date pretty merry and I’m sure everyone had a great night.

On the other hand: was it placed correctly?  Does it stand up to Goldsworthy or Moore, two of many examples of artists local and inspiring around the city?

I truly believe all art is good art when it comes to public installations and anything to get people talking and thinking is something I’m totally behind, but I wonder how many people will give ‘Where the Heart Is” much thought moments after they’ve passed it by.

I did, on the other hand, totally get laid that evening. So for that: cheers Tim.

Harry Johns


‘Where The Heart Is’ is displayed at the Algernon Firth Building of Leeds Infirmary.


Filed under: Art & Photography