You’re quickly navigating your way through the busy streets as a litany of thoughts storm throughout your mind. A tugging urgency propels you to take faster steps, you round a corner and suddenly notice a tiny hand, a hand holding a flower, a flower meant for you.
In this moment you stop. Are you inclined to create space within your day to reflect upon random generosity? Would such guerrilla philanthropy inspire you to pay it forward?
Ornamental Thoughtfulness is a public arts project that attempts to provoke such feelings by installing several tiny bronze hands in public places throughout central Wellington, New Zealand.
The purpose of these hands is to hold offerings, small gestures of thoughtfulness to whomever notices. These offerings are meant to engage passers with anonymous tokens of generosity. A silent act of kindness that the artist hopes will create a butterfly effect of positivity or at the very least, interrupt the everyday mundane with anonymous kindness and memorable beauty.
These little hands were placed in busy walkways, shortcuts, and along the streets where people often walk while on their way to school or work. The artist and educator, Mary Whalley would sometimes place a scroll of paper in the hands with messages like, “The hands mark my walk from home to work”. When she later visited the hand the message had been taken and replaced with other messages like, ”I am reading Hemmingway and live here too, on Vogel st.”
While some passers only accepted the random donation, (even taking the hands altogether) others left their own unique offerings including flowers, toys, drawings, notes, and tokens from their pockets. For six weeks the artist interacted with the community through a passive yet exciting method that in the end simply encouraged playful benevolence and brightened the day of many – with just a tiny little hand.
Vibol Moeung of Foxtree Studio – video. Zach Webber – music.
All photos courtesy of Ornamental Thoughtfulness.