This New Year’s Day, Pick Me Up (& hold me tight) will be aiming to make every phone box in the UK ring at the same time, at 11am.
An audio artwork with a difference
And if you’re wondering what happens when you pick up a ringing phone this New Year, you might be pleasantly surprised. If you pick up the ringing phone you will hear a five-minute audio artwork. This artwork is designed to encourage us all to think about our ability to listen. To listen to ourselves, to others, and to our surroundings, in a world which is growing louder by the day.
At a time of year when mental health struggles can be more pronounced – and especially with 2020 being such a challenging year – the audio is a gentle reminder to listen and to remember the power of simple connections.
Of course, many of us will be staying safely indoors this New Year. For those unable to get to a payphone, an online map will show in real-time all those phones being answered, and those that are still ringing.
This quirky art project is the brainchild of theatre and digital arts company ZU-UK. They’ve already successfully trialled a pilot in Leeds with 176 payphones ringing out.
Pick Me Up payphones
Although it’s unknown how many working payphones there are in the UK, there were 34,000 recorded as working in 2018. ZU-UK are currently crowdsourcing payphone numbers so they have thousands ready to call on 1st January. Audiences who want to make sure their nearest phone is on the list can request a call. You can nominate your local payphone number by getting in touch with ZU-UK.
The project is a timely piece, when the world is dealing with the problem of isolation. The artwork is inspired by ZU-UK’s research into mental health, and is an invitation to think about how we listen. Leeds was selected for the pilot as it has one of the highest suicide rates in the country. And (all being well) the artwork will revisit Leeds in March as part of Compass Festival 2021, with phones ringing every day throughout the festival.
When: 1st January 2021 (New Year’s Day) at 11am
Where: At phone boxes across the UK, and online
More info: zu-uk.com