Last week passengers could pick from a series of bespoke greetings as they got off trains at Preston Railway Station. There was a menu of encounters available: the red carpet treatment, a crowd cheering your name, slippers and a conversation, dramatic hugs with a run-up, your own personal bodyguard. The service was available to anyone arriving into Preston during 13-18 April and had booked their welcome in advance.

There was an online and over the telephone booking system, as well as a booking office on platform 3 at Preston Train Station. I put up posters and gave out flyers. I was nervous that no one would book; and of severe rail disruption.

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Then the bookings crept in, and a peculiar timetable, determined by scattered arrivals from British towns, was formed.

So much has happened; I will try and tell you what.

It is mainly the accidents and surprises that stay with me. This project has been about engineering chance things to happen, which makes it unclear who the artists are, who the audience is and what the art is. It levels things, disrupts hierarchies and lets us reimagine our ‘roles’.

Was it real or was it performed? Because we were really meeting each other, really walking on a red carpet, really taking autographs. But we were enjoying trying it on, trying it out, before leaving it again, minutes later.

I thought about the I and the You in I’m Glad You’re Here. It implicates an us. It is me calling out and getting a response. It is an attempt to connect, in the in-between. To overcome how separate and alone we are. This project could not happen on its own, it requires two people who meet. It is so nice to be met, to be received. It confirms our existence.

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Photos by Bernie Blackburn.

So the art happens in between us. There were lots of layers to being in it. There were people that actively joined in, took photos, asked for autographs, held up banners, opened confetti, cheered. It became a team effort in many cases, because it had to be, I can’t cheer on my own. I liked that it called for kindness from strangers, and I think strangers liked that too. I will not forget British Transport police saving the day by holding bunting along the platform with the Station Chaplain. Or the boys waiting for the Lancaster train who swarmed the red carpet asking for autographs. Or the hula-hoop troupe who got platform 2 chanting ‘Patricia’ as Patricia stepped off the Blackpool train. The staff at the train station who in between train announcements let me play people’s favourite songs over the tannoy system. The text messages from passengers confirming which carriage they were in. The photographers who gathered and grew over the week that meant we did have our own paparazzi for anyone arriving by red carpet. The security guard who helped me escort three women from Manchester out of the station. An autograph book full of people’s autographs.

I love that autograph book, I think it says how massive and tiny we are at the same time.

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And the art happens all around us too. The immediate audience at the train station, both the knowing and the unsuspecting. People peering out of train windows or double taking from the café. People stopping and staring. Bemused, intrigued or indifferent. Some people will have missed it because they were looking at their phone. And it is important that the piece can be left too, that it expects nothing, forces no one. It is quick and gone.

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Photos by Ashley David Hardman.

And where does the art go? Into the minds and memories of the people who witnessed it one way or another, in the photographs and videos and writing, probably online, maybe in a book. I think that the concept might exist for longer than all those things, the act of meeting someone and being glad that they are there, is out there.

This project has renewed my faith in other humans, and all the surprises they bring. I feel full of joy that I can’t do this- life- and art- on my own.

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Special thanks to all the staff who have been friendly and accommodating- Umar, Mick, Daniel, Hussein, Dhani, Louis, Sophie and so many others. Thanks to the passengers and passers-by. Big thank you to Derelict Sites and They Eat Culture for being partners and making this happen, Catherine, Josh and Ewa. Thank you Ellie, George and Perry for working with me. Thanks to Maddy Costa for making me think to write about it all.