When a lot of us feel more connected to peers online than to our neighbours and the idea of community has shifted from local to global networks, the 1 In A Million You lines create unexpected connections between strangers around the globe.

Over the last 6 months, an imagined tribe has emerged in the online virtual reality, linking people from all walks of life for a common goal: to experience and question how it feels to look different and stand out from the crowd, while becoming part of and giving life to a mysterious alternative community.

It all started in Liverpool, when the first masks were spotted in public places, mainstream events, online and in national press - with images of masks wearers appearing in the Daily Post, Daily Mirror, and Match of the Day. From Edinburgh to Australia, from France to Korea, images of mask-wearers have infiltrated private online spaces via friends of friends' networks: Facebook likes, Tumblr re-blogs, Hashtags and re-Tweets, playing with the power of the image to document a new reality.

The mind behind 1 In A Million You, Sky Arts Ignition winner and Liverpool Art Prize nominee artist Laurence Payot, remained hidden over the whole process, to hand over the work to its participants, let it develop organically and take on its own meaning.

She started by posting a join us appeal online, inviting curious and adventurous individuals to become part of the 1 In A Million tribe. As the word spread, daring individuals started to sign up for a mysterious mission: to wear the mask in public spaces or within their daily routine and document their experience. They would receive an anonymous letter with a tattoo transfer mask to apply on their skin, and some ritualistic instructions to follow.

While the imposing geometric lines unified them, the space between the lines highlighted their individual differences. Participants' take on the mask - it being a fashion statement, a desire to do something out of the everyday, or to challenge ideas of prejudice and identity - became a catalyst for online discussions: in a world where the media's power to dictate our political and social choices is ever stronger, 1 In A Million You has become a powerful digital platform to share thoughts and raise questions about what it means to be an individual in a growing global community.

Interviewed about the project, Laurence stated "For me, the mask is a living and growing drawing, which takes on new meanings and emotions every time it is worn by a different person in a different context. I love creating works that take on their own lives, and to allow myself to be surprised everyday by people's creative responses. The line between myself, my work and the audience is blurred, it becomes a collaborative and more democratic exchange where the work is not actually the mask but the new connections created through the lines."

Fully funded by Sky Arts in partnership with IdeasTap, 1 In A Million you is also being turned into a TV documentary which tells more about the history of the project, the team behind it and Laurence Payot. The first broadcast will be on SkyArts 2 HD, 25 August, 10.50pm.

Supported by Sky Arts Futures Fund
in association with IdeasTap

Thanks to:

Core Team:
  • Yoanna Karcheva - Online communication
  • Katherine Lloyd & Priya Sharma - Participant co-ordinator
  • Beatrice Boatto - Press
  • Clement Payot - Graphic design
  • John Wai - Project consultant, Web Design and Programming
  • Jen Manning - Mask maker
  • Hannah Bitowski - Mask design consultant
  • Justin Lewis & Dave Michael - Video
  • Lex Ward - Photography
  • Claire Doherty - Artistic Mentor - Director of Situations
  • Philip Edgar Jones - Sky mentor - Head of Entertainment at Sky
  • Emma Bell - Sky Mentor - Head of Online
  • Freya Murray - SkyArts Ignition Fund Mentor
  • Laura MacFarlane - Ideastap Mentor

A huge thank you to all the tribe members for their contributions, and anyone who has supported the project online or otherwise.

A personal thank you to Mark, Susan, and Charles Hilditch for their huge support.

For more information, or if you just want to get in touch, please contact 1inamillionyou@gmail.com