Southampton welcomes award-winning immersive project for Mayflower 400

Sep 10, 2020

The Empathy Museum’s 'A Mile In My Shoes' was a shoe shop where visitors were invited to walk a mile in someone else’s shoes – literally.

Wearing a pair of the contributor's shoes, visitors could go for a walk, listening to the shoes' original owner telling them a story.

The stories covered 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, was be at Westquay, on the Esplanade, from 12-20 September 2020.

This unique participatory arts project included 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:

  • Tom Wilkinson, Professor of Respiratory Medicine at the University of Southampton, who is leading the clinical trial of a new treatment for Covid-19.
  • Professor Margaret Ross MBE, named one of the most influential women in IT talks of the developments in IT over the last few decades as well as her love of horses and the New Forest.
  • Aaron Phipps, a London 2012 Paralympic athlete, sharing his story of climbing Kilimanjaro unassisted.
  • Eva Dixon, co-founder of a local grassroots charity who support African woman. She is also an entrepreneur and has been part of several women empowerment projects in England and Kenya.
  • Dahlia Jamil, a cultural leader who through her work at Art Asia has enabled individuals and groups to access, experiment and engage with the creative industry.
  • Ram Kalyan ‘Kelly’, a community radio producer who talks of this passion and enthusiasm for radio and community cohesion.
  • Lou Taylor, Director of Black History Month South, talks about the importance of understanding our collective history and questions whether the conversation on race has only just started.
  • Ciro Scognamiglio, an Italian Graffiti Artist and Chef. Ciro is a well-known throughout The Hip Hop scene in Southampton. He has recently produced artwork for Street Knowledge, a grassroots music initiative, promoting MCs in Southampton.

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 was possible thanks to funding from Southampton City Council and Arts Council England and support from Westquay.

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