Love Among the Ruins: A Romance of the Near Future presents the work of two social documentary photographers Roger Mayne (1929 – 2014) and Bill Stephenson (b. 1955), who documented the first residents of Park Hill from 1961-65 and the last remaining residents of Park Hill’s sister building Hyde Park in 1988 – both landmark buildings which were the product of City Council Architect J. L. Womersley’s pioneering vision for social housing in Sheffield.
The exhibition takes its title from Evelyn Waugh’s satirical short story, which imagines a dystopian future Britain as the result of an overbearing welfare state. Written in 1953, Waugh’s story foreshadowed some of the concerns about the possible social consequences of the government’s progressive post-war approach to rebuilding the country.
Including rare documents and archival material, Love Among the Ruins is a re-interpretation of Streets in the Sky, an exhibition by Mayne and Stephenson curated by Matthew Conduit at the Untitled Gallery in Sheffield in 1988. Love Among the Ruins revisits aspects of the original exhibition alongside works not previously shown and includes The Fortress, a film about Park Hill produced by the BBC in 1965 as part of its Landmarks documentary series.
Looking back to the utopian ideals inherent in the architecture of Park Hill and Hyde Park, Love Among the Ruins traces the social history of the two estates, reconsidering the 1988 exhibition 30 years on. As Park Hill is once again undergoing a huge period of reinvention following its Grade II* listing in 1998 and ongoing redevelopment since 2007, Love Among the Ruins offers a moment to reflect on the major changes that the estate has experienced historically and marks the next phase in the evolution of this landmark building.