Pick Me Up (and hold me tight) by ZU-UK

by ZU-UK in London, England, United Kingdom

Total raised £15,310

raised so far



Following the success of our ambitious national artwork crowdfunder, we are now accepting ongoing donations of support towards 1st Jan 2021.

by ZU-UK in London, England, United Kingdom

We're still collecting donations

On the 27th July 2018 we'd raised £15,130 with 300 supporters in 63 days. But as every pound matters, we're continuing to collect donations from supporters.

 New stretch target

We made it to £15,000!

We have included below updated information about the development of this artwork pilot for the 1st January 2020, and beyond. Scroll down for details.

You can participate from anywhere in the UK - simply by following the links below.

Donations are still open.

We want to raise another £1,000 to further develop the online map - where anyone will be able to see which phones have been picked up and which ones are still ringing.

The pilot web design was already included in our initial aim, however, further investment will allow for a real time map where anyone can see immediately when a phone has been picked up.

The additional investment for the map will also allow for a better design of the phone dedications - where a payphone will be dedicated to the memory of a loved one lost to suicide.

Thank you. You've been amazing coming on this journey with us this far!

ZU-UK team

During our original crowdfunding campaign, we successfully raised £15,130 thanks to 300 wonderful supporters. We are now continuing to accept donations to help us on future developments of this artwork leading up to 1st January 2021. To find out where we are at with the project development, visit our website: zu-uk.com

Find out more about our original campaign below.

in partnership with MIND in Camden


About the project

It’s 11am, on New Years Day. The date and time when, every year, there is a peak in suicide rates. It is at this moment in time that we want to engage in a collective act of listening and contemplation. We will do this by making all 34,000 public pay phones across the UK ring at the same time; a nationwide call for connection. The story begins when the first call is answered.

Pick Me Up (and hold me tight) is theatre and digital art company ZU-UK’s most ambitious project to date - and we need your help to make it happen. If we can raise the minimum funds of £15,000 to deliver the pilot we will secure the backing of  a major technical partner - which will guarantee the delivery of the pilot in 2019 AND a nationwide launch in 2020.

“Innovative, ingenious, challenging, life-enhancing are all words that should be applied sparingly unless describing the 'real deal'. Having watched and been part of this company's work I've been amazed by the depth of their imagination and their ability to bring it to fruition through their theatre practice.”

Jude Kelly CBE, Artistic Director of the Southbank Centre, on ZU-UK.

As a company, we don’t confine our artwork to conventional venues and spaces. Because we want everyone to be able to take part in what we do. As such, we have staged overnight performances, driven our audiences around in taxis, boats, trains and set them up on blind dates in shopping centres. In the 15 years since we formed, we have become known for the time and imagination it takes to make our work, and the care we put into looking after audiences to make communities out of strangers.

This project is very close to our hearts. Like many of you reading this, we have known close colleagues, friends, students and heroes who have died by suicide. And in the UK today, suicide is the most common form of death for men aged 20-49, whilst mental health issues will affect 1 in 4 people at some point in their lives. Pick Me Up (and hold me tight) offers an opportunity to engage in an act of listening, remembrance and compassion. An opportunity to reflect on when we stopped asking the question “what is life for?”

"It really makes you think about what it means to be a human being, what it means to make contact with other people.” 

ZU-UK audience member after 'Binaural Dinner Date'

When Pick Me Up (and hold me tight)  begins with the UK’s public phones ringing in unison at 11am on the first of January 2020, the person picking up will receive an interactive audio experience. The phones that aren’t answered will continue to ring every Monday at 11am until someone does eventually pick up.

For those who can’t be at a public pay phone on New Year’s Day morning, Pick Me Up (and hold me tight) can also be experienced online via an audiovisual map that will track - in real time - which phones have been picked up and which ones are still trying to make a connection.

Artwork by Jacky Fleming - one of the rewards of the campaign:

Pick Me Up (and hold me tight) is not a suicide prevention project. Nor are we trying to ‘make sense’ of why, at a particular moment in time, it may feel like the right choice for someone to end their life. Through this nationwide invitation, we want to give people the chance to reflect, remember and gather in a mass act of contemplation about changes in the fabric of our communities, the shrinking of public space and contact between fellow humans.

Since the idea was born in 2015, we have been collaborating with a range of mental health researchers and experts to help us realise Pick Me Up (and hold me tight). We have already had interest from several major festivals and commissioners, and as mentioned previously we will have backing from significant technical partners to secure the delivery of the pilot in 2019 as well as a the full nationwide project in 2020 - provided we can raise £15,000 now.


You can either throw whatever spare cash you have at us, or you can claim one of the rewards - all created in the name of thoughtfulness, reflection and connection. For example, you will be able to dedicate a phone box to a loved one - and that dedication will remain on our online map forever.

"This project is dedicated to Mark Fisher. An author, cultural theorist and thinker who had a way of plugging in to the 'critical admixture' by taking ideas from music culture, philosophy and social movements, and using the whole lot to mount a challenge to the mainstream. His thinking has been a main source of inspiration since we started developing PMU in 2015, so it feels right that the work should be in his memory."

Persis-Jadé Maravala, Artistic Director of ZU-UK and creator of Pick Me Up (and hold me tight)

Artwork by Kevin Lycett - one of the rewards of the campaign:


Where will the money go?

The money will be used to engage an extraordinary team of professionals, with the skills required to pull off  this ambitious project over a 5 month period leading up to 1st January 2019.  ZU-UK are very experiened developing technically and artistically complex artworks in smaller scales, but reaching our £15,000 target will allow us to pay technologists to create a pilot version of the interactive platform, cover all audio and studio costs for the writing, directing, recording, editing and implementing a fully interactive audio script to be tested across controlled geographical locations on the 1st January.  The costs also include the development, design and management of an online map platform where individual dedications will be posted, and we will be able to show in real time which phones have been picked up and which phones are still ringing. Finally, we will also continue to engage mental health advisors and an engagement officer who will organise ongoing relationships with people who have been bereaved or affected by suicide in the UK.

What happens when I pick up the phone?

When you pick up the phone you will be able to participate in a gentle but thought-provoking audio experience that exposes the edges of our humanness. It's an invitation to pause and take stock of what it means to be alive.

What happens if someone contemplating suicide decides to pick up the ringing phone?

Throughout every step of this process, we are consciously working to deliver this project with the utmost sensitivity and respect for its topic. Every phone will have a direct connection to the Samaritans, and listeners will be offered to be connected as soon as they pick up the phone. 

Doesn’t ZU-UK get funding from Arts Council England for this kind of thing?

We are very fortunate to have been awarded Arts Council England’s Elevate fund (2016-19), which means we receive a funding contribution towards our core staffing and running costs. However, this funding covers less than half of our total expenditure every year so we still have to raise a lot of additional income for the company and the projects we want to create.

If you need money, why do you offer rewards?

We want everyone contributing to this project to have a lasting memory of the process - whether or not you end up directly experiencing the final artwork. A large number of the rewards offered have been kindly donated to us by ZU's staff, artists and collaborators, or in some cases they are special experiences that we can deliver at a small cost.

If you raise this money now, will it mean that Pick Me Up (& hold me tight) will be made in full?

Pick Me Up (& hold me tight)'s future is strong, and we are doing well in identifying further income sources for the full project.  So if we manage to raise these initial funds for the 2019 pilot, we are very optimistic about the delivery of the full version in 2020.


ZU-UK are renowned for their distinctive personal, political and sometimes humorous approach to creating interactive performance. Known for their care and complete respect for audience members, the company are leaders in participatory theatre and performance art.

Previous productions include the widely acclaimed Hotel Medea (2009-2012) which was performed at LIFT Festival, the Hayward Gallery and Edinburgh Festival Fringe, where it won a Prix Ars Electronica Award; a Herald Angel Award, Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2011; and was Time Out Critic's Choice - Pick of the Fringe 2011.

From June to December 2015, 7000 visitors experienced #RioFoneHack in the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park; where three iconic Brazilian phone boxes rang as visitors walked past. Those who dared to pick up were treated to an interactive and humorous audio experience.

More recently Binaural Dinner Date (2017) enjoyed sold out previews and an extended run at Theatre Royal Stratford East, eventually transferring to Stratford Shopping Centre.


Jacky Fleming

Jacky Fleming is a cartoonist, whose work first became known through her pre-internet postcards, which reached women around the world by snail mail. She studied at Chelsea School of Art, followed by Leeds University - where her contemporaries formed bands like the Mekons, and the Gang of Four. Her first published cartoon, which appeared in Spare Rib, was a university essay which she handed in as a cartoon strip. Since then her work has featured in many books, exam papers, and publications which include The Guardian, The Independent, New Statesman, New Internationalist, Red Pepper, Observer, Diva, You, and Big Issue. She has published six books of cartoons, five with Penguin, one with Bloomsbury. THE TROUBLE WITH WOMEN is her seventh title, published by Square Peg in February 2016.

Kevin Lycett

Kevin Lycett studied Fine Art and Art History at Leeds University 1974-1978. He worked collaboratively and as a solo artist across a wide range of art, including video, performance, photography, film, print and occasionally painting.  In 1977 he formed the seminal post punk band The Mekons with fellow art students from Leeds University. Kevin focused his creative activity on this project for the next 12 years; after which he became an occasional contributor, which continues to this day.

The Mekons, most of whom also have art school backgrounds, continue to create art and exhibit, having had several exhibitions in the 90’s and early 2,000s. The exhibitions ‘United’ and ‘Oooh’ in particular featured collaborative works and publications, touring both the UK and the USA.  Kevin’s recent work has been exhibited in the UK and the USA, and is informally represented in the USA by Yard Dog studio, Austin, Texas.


DJ Dolores


ZU workshops:

Edible Garden workshop

Tanja Raaste started her gardening journey with a basil plant and a potted tomato, after which things got out of hand. She now grows over 70 varieties of edible plant in her small urban garden, using organic, permaculture, no-dig and forest gardening methods - all designed to make the garden as productive, beautiful and low-maintenance as possible. Decisions on what to grow are made on the basis of tastiness - a true stomach-led garden! When not enjoying the garden, she runs the Edible Garden blog and offers a design and planning service. The workshop takes place at the Edible Garden, in SE London, and comprises of a tour where we look at what to grow, where to grow it, how to deal with pests, maintenance and a Q&A over some home-grown herbal teas.

Singing workshop

Therese Ramstedt is a singer and performer working extensively with ensemble song as a starting point for creative collaboration and listening. A part of professional choir London Contemporary Voices, Therese's voice has been heard on the soundtrack to Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, on BBC and Virgin Radio and at Secret Cinema events. With LCV, she has sung with artists including Imogen Heap, Laura Mvula and Amber Run and her workshop will focus on group singing as a method for communication, reflection and attentive listening to oneself and others. No prior singing experience necessary!

If you are feeling depressed or suicidal - or need someone to talk to for any reason - you can call Samaritans on 116 123. Any time of day, any day of the year, from any phone. Completely free. Callers who are deaf or have hearing or speech impairments can email [email protected] or use the Next Generation Text Service


This project offered rewards

£5 or more

Thank you!

A public thank you on ZU-UK's website and, of course, our eternal gratitude.

£10 or more

Thank you + postcard

A public thank you on ZU-UK's website and a postcard with an exclusive Pick Me Up (and hold me tight) illustration by Jacky Fleming.

£20 or more

Thank you + postcard + badges

In addition to a public thank you and a postcard, we will also send you a set of Pick Me Up (and hold me tight) badges - with Jacky Fleming's exclusive illustration.

£30 or more

ALL of the above + notebook

In addition to an online thank you, a postcard and badges you will also receive a special Pick Me Up (and hold me tight) notebook.

£50 or more

Surprise totebag

You will get a Pick Me Up (and hold me tight) totebag filled with ALL of the above, plus a little surprise or two...

£75 or more

Phone box dedication

You can dedicate a phone box to the memory of a person whose life has ended, and their name and story will appear on the audiovisual online map part of Pick Me Up (and hold me tight).

£250 or more

Workshop on Edible Gardening with Tanja Raaste

We have a bunch of friends that we know who deliver some pretty fulfilling workshops. This workshop and garden tour lasts for 3 hours, and can accommodate up to 6 people. Held in a lovely garden in South London (near Crystal Palace).

£250 or more

Workshop on Ensemble singing, Therese Ramstedt

We have a bunch of friends that we know who deliver some pretty fulfilling workshops. This workshop lasts for 3 hours, and can accommodate up to 12 people. Held at ZU-UK's space GAS Station in East London, but travel may be possible depending on your set-up.

£300 or more

Dinner for 2 with ZU-UK

ZU-UK directors Persis-Jadé Maravala and Jorge Lopes Ramos will treat you and a guest to a sumptuous vegetarian curry at their home, with drinks and dessert. You can chat to them about this project, other projects, life and enjoy their house special - a mushroom and potato curry.

£500 or more

Dinner with ZU-UK + massage.

ZU-UK directors Persis-Jadé Maravala and Jorge Lopes Ramos will still have you and a guest over for dinner, but before you enjoy a tasty veggie curry you will be treated to a deep tissue massage*. And then you can chat to the company directors about this project, other projects and life. *Masseur is ZU-UK artist and collaborator Will Dickie, trained deep tissue and Kalari techniques in India

£100 or more

NEW - Original painting by Kevin Lycett

1 new A4 painting by Kevin Lycett - part of a limited series of 10. From artist Kevin Lycett's specially created series for Pick Me Up (& hold me tight).

£150 or more

Signed and framed Jacky Fleming poster

An A3 poster with Jacky Fleming's exclusively created Pick Me Up (and hold me tight) illustration, signed and framed for you.

£1,000 or more

Special song commission

BBC Radio 3 World Music Award winner DJ Dolores will create a completely new song, dedicated to to the memory of someone who decided to end their life. You can help tailor the song by contributing audio clips (of any quality) related to the memory of that person.

Show your support

Payment and personal details are protected