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“Trying to connect people when they were really disconnected”: Women in Lockdown launch

Sheffield Feminist Archive’s Women in Lockdown project launched at John St Kitchen with artists, writers and flowers.

Laura, Lucy and Jenny from Sheffield Feminist Archive at the Women in Lockdown launch

Laura, Lucy and Jenny from Sheffield Feminist Archive at the Women in Lockdown launch

Philippa Willitts

While much has been said about society’s experiences of lockdown, there are many stories that have not been heard, so Sheffield Feminist Archive started listening. Listening to women.

Because, as is often the case, the stories we hear the most are the stories of the people with the loudest voices and the most power.

Postcards at the Women in Lockdown launch
Philippa Willitts

The group of volunteers distributed postcards, used the hashtag #WomenInLockdown, and invited contributions from all self-defining women in Sheffield and, on August 3, invited people to launch their project at John St Kitchen. While the Women in Lockdown website is not yet ready, artwork, photographs and postcards from women filled the walls.

A postcard at the Women in Lockdown launch

A postcard with a drawing of the sea with some people holding each other in the centre

Philippa Willitts

Jules from Hop Hideout spoke of the difficulties running a hospitality business during lockdowns, and art group Blow Your Own Trumpet discussed their collaborative art project that documented their experiences as the first year of Covid went on.

Lucy Marriott moved to Sheffield during this time, which meant she struggled to meet her neighbours and community. What is now the Inside/Out project began as an attempt to meet the people around her and involved photographing people on their doorsteps around Sharrow, where she lived, with the help of Sharrow Community Forum.

Artists at the Women in Lockdown launch
Philippa Willitts

In this work, she was “trying to connect people when they were really disconnected”, and, as a result, her community became a place where she would always have people to say hi to as she walked down the street. In the process, isolated and marginalised people also had that human connection.

Meanwhile, Désirée Reynolds spoke of her ground-breaking work on Dig Where You Stand, part of which was hosted here at Now Then. Seeking the stories of people of colour in Sheffield’s past has proved to be part frustrating, part fruitful, but her message was clear: the archives are not just for the white men so over-represented in what we know about our history.

We have to look for the people we want to hear about.

Posies from Bloom Sheffield at the Women in Lockdown launch
Philippa Willitts

Finally, Rosanne van der Voet read a poem, her creative archive submission, called Fantasia.

We each left with stunning posies from Bloom Sheffield, as well as a sense that our stories are important and should be told.

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