Wheel of Kindness
Wheel of Kindness is a physical data installation made of stickers and tape. It visualises 21 days of kindnesses.
Over a three-week period I collected data on kindness, logging every kind action, large and small. I represented the data using stickers. Each sticker represents a single act of kindness over time, flowing clockwise from 12 o clock.
Stickers facing inward represent times other people were kind to me. Stickers facing outwards represent occasions when I was kind to others.
I used bright highlighter stickers bought from a stationery shop and colour coded them according to my relationship with that person: friend (yellow stickers), colleague (green), stranger (blue) or commercial (orange). Commercial relationships were those in the context of a financial transaction – basically, when people in shops gave me stuff for free.
My husband (pink stickers) gets a category all of his own – because he is brilliant, naturally. (I didn't have much contact with rest of my family during those weeks, or they would have been represented too.)
For the first two weeks I was working in London staying with friends, so friend, colleague and stranger stickers dominate the first part of the visualisation. My husband came to visit for a weekend (a few pink stickers) then went away again. The last week was spent at home in the West Country where I had few interactions with anyone other than my husband, so the final week is almost entirely pink.
How to define kindness? I count it as an instance of going out of your way to be generous, beyond politeness or the call of duty. Not just saying please and thank you, but offering to help or doing something that genuinely improved another person's day. This is subjective data – defining kindness is a personal thing – but that's kind of the point. It's about learning to pay attention to kindness when it occurs.
Because when you start doing this, you become aware of how much you rely on other people just to get by. Not in some abstract, infrastructural way ('I rely on the train driver to get me to work') but directly. Like all the strangers in London who helped me up awkward Tube station steps with my heavy suitcase. They didn't have to do that, but they did. It was kind of them.
Wheel of Kindness was exhibited at the Civic Shop, Somerset House, London, from December 2014 to March 2015.