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Art Wrapping Paper

Aida Wide Big Issue Q+A

What’s the story behind your Big Issue Christmas art wrapping paper? How did you settle on the artwork you’ve chosen?

The concept for Love Is Contagious came about very intuitively like most of the works in my practice. A small whisper which kept on getting louder as I was watching many more new heart breaks unfold across the world. 

I was reflecting on us just emerging out of the worse end of the pandemic and trying to connect the simple, happier and joyful things in life that could be considered as being contagious.

With the Cost of Living crisis knocking on the doors of many UK households, the focus of the work is about simple shared commonalities and the “free” things in life…. Love [Unconditional], doing your best to being kind- Laughter, and the joys and euphoria dance can have on our mood, body and wellbeing, all came to play under the theme. 

After a little research into the idea, it turned out that even science and historical reinforced the concept.

Neuroscientific studies show how the brain responds to the sound of laughter, making it spreadable from person to person. And the practice of ‘Laughter Yoga” is becoming more and more popular as a group exercise that combines deep breath work, promoting wellness and happiness. 

Then there is the famous case of the Dancing Plague of 1518, which hundreds of citizens of Strasbourg danced uncontrollably and unwillingly for days, which ended mysteriously after two months. 

But above all…. LOVE is really the big player in this. We need to practice it more within our daily life and routines. 

I wanted to design something new and specific for the Big Issue wrapping paper project. 

After initially making a list of words that could be deemed contagious, I settled for the fab four… Love, Kindness, Laughter and Dancing. The designs also went through many stages and colour combinations and scales before I settled on the two designs which I felt work best for their given function. 

The wrapping paper is light, fun and playful, whilst the bold stand-alone poster would work really well framed and hung on a wall. 

Why did you get involved with The Big Issue for this project?

Firstly, when you receive and email that says, ‘Contact from on behalf of Lord John Bird’ in your inbox, you’re automatically going to take the correspondence quite seriously.

I honestly thought it was spam at first, until I read further on- 

I remember The Big Issue launching when I was at school in 1991. It was such a huge turning point and everyone was talking about it at the time. Since then, it has become such an important stable and empowering institution, setting many precedents with its work, in the UK and its ethos spreading worldwide. 

In light of the recent absurd comments made by our home secretary, with one of them being about “Homelessness being a life style choice” it is now more important than ever to support and raise awareness to the rising unfortunate circumstances of individuals and families who are faced and forced in to this situation whilst still trying to retain some control and dignity within their lives. 

I am so honoured to think something that I have created can contribute to help in some small ways towards supporting the bigger issues and matters that we/world is facing right now. 

What does Christmas mean to you?

To be honest, it is a very challenging time of the year for me. 

Growing up, Christmas time was never in our heritage and it was only when we came to the UK that I was exposed to it- even then, not understanding much as I couldn’t speak English, all I deciphered was that there was a man, dressed in a red suit, with a big white beard that gave out presents.

I usually try and organise some sort of a fundraiser around that time of the year- This year I have launched a collaborative project with BAD Coffee to raise funds for local youth & mental health services as well as contributing to another project with Orlando Frames, that supports female domestic violence survivors who are setting up new homes. 

As I got older, and being the kind of person I am, the over indulgence, consumerism and the fuss of it all, affects me very deeply. 

I try and spend very modestly around that time of the year, lay low and just be with my family when I can.

If you could buy everyone in the UK a Christmas present, what would it be?

Continuing with the ethos of ‘The Simple Things In Life’ and not to sound too condescending…. 

I would make up a ‘Care Hamper’ that includes jars and bottles of all sorts of potions like, Hope, Love, Friendship, Compassion, Tolerance, Joys, Security, Good Health and Peace- But I’d also sneak in a big bar of the best tasting chocolate in the world, because who doesn’t like chocolate! 

It is supposed to be the time of year for magic & miracles after all and it doesn’t cost a thing to dream.