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18 March 2023

Posted by Susmita Bhattacharya

Found Cities, Lost Objects: Women in the City Curated by Lubaina Himid CBE

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

In March, the in-person SOWrite Women's Writing Group visited the exhibition, Found Cities, Lost Objects: Women in the City curated by Lubaina Himid CBE, in the Southampton City Gallery. It was quite an incredible experience that allowed us to consider the experiences of women in a city, and through the works of contemporary female artists.

We had some very lively discussions about what a city means to us as women, what relationship do we have with Southampton as a woman in this city. We talked about other cities we have lived in, and would hope to live in. 

The exhibition is on until 6th May, and definitely one to visit.

There was a particular exhibit that intrigued most of us - Melanie Manchot's Dance (All Night, London) a video  that Manchot collaborated with 10 dance schools from around east London, each representing a different style of dance from Chinese dance to Argentinean Tango. The dancers paraded through the streets, coming together in Exchange Square, Broadgate, where they danced alongside each other.

Did you know that the founder of the A to Z Map Company was founded by a woman, Phyllis Pearsall (1906 - 1996)? After getting lost in London due to an out of date map, Pearsall decided to develop her own indexed map, and is regarded as one of the most successful business people of the twentieth century.

Here's Jo Fisher's poem that takes both of these ideas and puts them together in Southampton. 

We are all dancing here.


Take me in your arms.

Let’s waltz down the path

that cuts through the heart of East Park,

whirling around statues and dogs let loose on late-evening walks.

Cavort around the corner, and on

to Guildhall Square,

where others join:

a pirouette on a rumbling skateboard,

a hand jive while tussling with an overfilled bag.

Tap dance with me down to Old Town,

tiptoeing and kicking through crowds.

A brief chorus line at the crossing

with Bargate in sight,

then quickstep and shimmy

in time with the music that calls out from 

open-door eateries.

We exit, stage right, and swirl 

around the burnt-out belly of Holyrood Church.

We are not alone.

A couple do the charleston down from St Michael’s,

wine-imbibed limbs kicking wildly.

A pack of young wild things launch themselves

out of The Standing Order,

shuffling, spinning, in between oncoming cars.

A man takes a bow

head first into a bin.

We are all dancing here.


By Jo Fisher

And here is Tara's poem that explores her city, London.


Weaving and winding through the city streets
And, I’m dancing inside my head 
Because, the Thames is the drum kit
and the people dancing, 
reverberating,from it
A mix of vibrancy and peaceful
Atmosphere ringing in my head

Like the brain stem and polyvagal nerve 
That looks like a beautiful, entangled tree
if you take away the brain
London would be even more incredible
if you took away the immorality of Westminster 
All roots joining paths 
To be represented in our pain

A tree branching off and growing in perfect pockets 
We’ll end up with zone 21
The mix between those struggling 
and living like Kings 
Never Queens
Let’s talk about Grenfell if we’re talking 
about London
But there are communities that make my soul sing 



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