The Empathy Museum’s 'A Mile In My Shoes' is a shoe shop where visitors are invited to walk a mile in someone else’s shoes – literally.
Wearing a pair of the contributor's shoes, visitors go for a walk, listening to the shoes' original owner telling them a story.
The stories cover different aspects of life, exploring themes of shared humanity, from grief and loss to love and joy, visitors take an empathetic, as well as a physical journey.
A Mile In My Shoes, will be at Westquay, on the Esplanade, from 12-20 September 2020.
This unique participatory arts project includes stories from all over the world, along with eight new local stories from Southampton, commissioned by Mayflower 400.
These Southampton stories will become part of the Empathy Museum’s permanent collection. They include:
The installation is open from 10am to 4pm, Monday to Wednesday; and 10am to 6pm, Thursday to Sunday, while from Monday to Wednesday, 10am to 12pm, over-70s and vulnerable people will be prioritised for slots and to increase social distancing, meaning fewer people will be given access.
To ensure all participants are comfortable and Covid-secure, a range of flexible options have been put in place to ensure that they have the best experience.
For example, if you'd prefer, shoes can be looked at but not worn and you can choose to use you own device or bring your own headphones to plug in to listen to the stories.
The installation is free to attend and there will be a timed entry system. To avoid the queues, free tickets are bookable in advance, online, here.
You can attend without advanced booking but will have to wait for an available slot and be asked to complete track and trace information.
Cllr Satvir Kaur, Cabinet Member for Homes, Communities and Culture, said: "It is so great we can bring this important and powerful project to Southampton, aimed to draw us in and think differently about one another.
"The Southampton participants show the amazingly wide range of personalities and skills we have here, as well as our truly global nature.
"From world-leading scientists to sportsmen, pioneering women, through to cultural leaders, Southampton people are at the heart of what makes our city so great, and empathy is part of what keeps us connected.
"I hope local residents take advantage and visit this moving and thought-provoking project, to reflect on how it feels to walk a mile is someone else's shoes."
Clare Patey, Director of Empathy Museum, added: “Early in lockdown I was struck by a tweet from Ray Monk, Emeritus Professor of Philosophy at Southampton University, who wrote, 'Maybe the most important lesson this crisis has to teach us is the importance of empathy and compassion'.
“I hope that collectively we will continue to learn this lesson. I am delighted that Empathy Museum will open its doors in Southampton as part of Mayflower 400.
“A Mile in My Shoes will give people the opportunity to share stories and to practice the art of empathy, in what is both a playful and often profound experience of connection with our common humanity.”
This project is possible thanks to funding from Southampton City Council and Arts Council England and support from Westquay.
You can book tickets here.
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