Stik's Holding Hands series originated as a sculpture installed in Hoxton Square. The figures in the print, released in five colourways, hold hands "in a sign of universal love and solidarity," yet they face opposite directions, as though anticipating separation. The image encapsulates both the strength and fragility of comradery.

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Meaning & Analysis

The Holding Hands series originates in a sculpture installed at Hoxton Square in September 2020, produced in collaboration with Hackney Council.  Available in red, orange, blue, yellow and teal, and as a complete set, Stik endeavoured to deliver a copy of the print to every household in the area as a gift. The print depicts two stick figures of equal height holding hands, both looking sidewards apprehensively. 

There is a tension between connection and separation in the work; while the couple hold hands, the figures look away in opposite directions, as if anticipating a separation. The expected separation not only exists in the oppositional gazes, but also in the figures’ physicality: their knees point away from each other. Nevertheless, their hands are securely intertwined, bringing the stickmen into unison; according to the artist, “they are holding hands in a sign of universal love and solidarity”.

One figure gazes westward and the other eastward, perhaps playfully gesturing toward the rivalry between the east and west of the city. Countless couples have been photographed in front of the sculpture since its installation. Approximately double human height in stature, the hands are low enough for a viewer to reach, inviting the bystander to connect with the sculpture themselves.

Depending on where viewers stand in relation to the sculpture, the figure which leads the other changes. This shifting viewpoint, typical of the sense of instability prevalent in Stik’s work, invites the viewer to contemplate the uniqueness of every individual’s outlook in conjunction with the human need to find common ground. Of the sculpture, Stik has remarked: “The ‘Holding Hands’ sculpture is being installed at a poignant time in our history when holding hands is not always possible, but is a symbol of hope for what has always been and what will be again.” The print strikes a different mood than the towering sculpture with its sense of scale stripped away and its uprooting of the figures from the sculpture’s urban milieu.