How long a hug do you want because I could stand here all day?

Various Locations


I started creating work about hugs in 2003.

This was the first project where I made performances outside of art school or gallery. In these performances, I invited complete strangers to hug me. At Heathrow Airport, I stood behind the arrivals gate barrier with a "Hug!" sign. After a lot of smiles and quite a lot of flirtation, an older gentleman came straight towards forward and embraced me. No conversations took place but the stranger walked off smiling.

This performance made me feel a combination of vulnerability and empowerment.

In my next venture, I stood in Kew Gardens and asked all those who passed-by if they would hug me. I named the video "How long a hug do you want because I could stand here all day?" after receiving this enquiry from one of the participants who gave me my longest embrace. This performance lasted one hour and I recorded it (with the help of Toby Summerskill) with four video cameras. After editing the video material, I displayed the experience into a box installation space for my degree show at Wimbledon School of Art in June 2004.

In June 2006, I sat on a central Leeds street and quietly busked for hugs.

Asking strangers for hugs can be seen as emotionally needy but equally, these acts could suggest a desperation to embrace others in a society where we are unable to touch one another outside of our family or friend units.