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How big is your hug?

How big is your hug?

Tuesday 02 June 2020

How big is your hug?


A multi-disciplinary artist based in Jersey is asking islanders to ‘measure’ their hugs for a project that aims to document the experience of physical distancing during the covid-19 pandemic.

Yulia Makeyeva’s ‘Jersey Isolation Hug’ project – which she launched in April – will conclude with a final piece of work to be revealed at the end of the year, “...when we can all rejoin and have as many real hugs as we want."

The artist, who grew up in Russia, is now based in Jersey. With a degree in Linguistics and an education in Art History, as well as silversmithing and jewellery making, Yulia decided last year to give her “full attention” to art.  

She took part in a three-month intensive Art Portfolio course in London, experimenting with different mediums, such as photography, installations, video, collage, printmaking and traditional domestic crafts. 

 
 
 
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A post shared by Yulia Makeyeva (@yulia_makeyeva) onFeb 2, 2020 at 5:01am PST

Pictured: Yulia's work was exhibited at Fort Regent earlier this year as part of a textile-based art exhibition.

Earlier this year, she participated in a textile-based art exhibition curated by the Ramp’Arts collective, displaying works in which she had experimented with drapery, single threads, recycling, and objects covered with fabric.

Being passionate about engaging the community through art, Yulia also created an installation using recycled beads and wire for the Skipton Big Ideas Exhibition, which should have taken place in St. Helier this year but has now been postponed to 2021 due to the corona virus outbreak.

Like many other islanders, Yulia’s life was disrupted by the global pandemic but lockdown also inspired her. 

 
 
 
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A post shared by YM-isolation Hug (@yulia_makeyeva_studio) onMay 27, 2020 at 12:13am PDT

Pictured: Yulia has been asking islanders to measure their hugs.

“Before the lockdown, I saw people imitating hugs from a distance by stretching their arms in the air and smiling to each other,”  Yulia explained on her website. I also saw many funny pictures and memes in social media about ‘socially-distanced hugs’. 

“The question I asked myself was – how can you actually measure the depth of a hug? Whether it is narrow or wide, person big or small, weak or strong – how can you quantify the energy it gives? The feelings of the giver and those of the receiver?”

She came up with the idea of a community art project, where islanders, instead of painting or creating a piece of work, would measure their hugs’ height and width and send them to her. Islanders who take part can also choose to send a picture of their hugs. 

 
 
 
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A post shared by YM-isolation Hug (@yulia_makeyeva_studio) onApr 22, 2020 at 4:44am PDT

Pictured: Islanders, including fellow artist Nick Romeril, have been sending pictures of their hugs.

“I have asked for the figures which don’t mean anything in terms of the quality of the hug,” the artist said.

“It does not matter how wide the hug is or how tall the person is, the intention and the energy is what is important. That’s why we hug each other, when we want to greet someone or if someone needs our sympathy. The finished work will reflect the energy of the hugs.”

Yulia has been compiling the different measurements sent it creating a “map of hugs”. But the project does not end here, later this year, she will be revealing a new work informed by the different hugs islanders have sent.

As the artist is still working on several concepts for her final piece, its exact nature is still under wraps, but Yulia assured the public will be able to engage with it to “feel the energy of the hug”.

 
 
 
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A post shared by YM-isolation Hug (@yulia_makeyeva_studio) onMay 31, 2020 at 2:31am PDT

Pictured: Yulia is inviting islanders to get creative with their hug submissions.

She also wants it to act as a reminder of what social distancing was like.

“It is still a challenge now with social distancing and it will still be in place for quite a while and people’s boundaries concept will be different,” Yulia said. 

“People are very cautious in general about approaching new people or ‘strangers’. This experience will stay in memory and people will speak about it now and then. 

“I want the work to be a recent memory of how it was, even for people to remember better.

“I want it to be a reminder from when people were in isolation and missing tactile contact from people and family we take for granted and suddenly it’s gone and only then we start to appreciate it and how common it is.” 

To give a hug to Yulia, click here.

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