Made from Memory 2004 a solo fibre-arts exhibition created in response to the fashion/textile collection at Pickford’s House Museum of Georgian Costume, Derby. United Kingdom.
Inspired by a single pair of Georgian shoes, this body of work explored footwear as a metaphor for ideas, concepts and states of being. Hand-me-downs comments on the social divide between upper and lower classes; Relics is about old shoes as good luck symbols and as protection from evil spirits whilst the white shoe installation explores other-worldly journeys.
Made from Memory suggests the idea that worn shoes evoke the memory of the wearer and their social status, each shoe wearing differently, moulded through wear to an individual foot shape, suggesting either a life of luxury or that of hard work. Each shoe-form in Hand me Down’s for example was constructed from the same template (which also retains the shape for each individual pattern piece) yet each shoe-form has its own special trade mark and individuality.
White shoe installation 21 pieces.
Constructed from knitted sewing thread bonded to fine Tissutex papers, this installation relates directly to concepts explored in my previous exhibition Inside Out and in particular Spirit Dresses 1 and 2. Somewhere in one of my sketchbooks I remember noting that the spirit dresses needed spirit shoes!
Ethereal, ghostly shoe- like forms to transport the spirit to another place.
Pure, simple unadorned shapes: the worldly, upper class Georgian shoe stripped of all its finery to express notions of spirituality.
White suggests innocence and purity in western cultures and is symbolic of death and mourning in some eastern cultures. In the latter example white acknowledges the fact that the deceased has left the earth for a new, purer spiritual state.
Hand me Downs 11 pieces.
Distressed shoe forms inspired by the Georgian shoe collection constructed from flat pattern pieces of stitched, heat -treated and slashed Tyvek, layered over deconstructed knit, coloured with wood stains and varnish. These works were made in 2004.
There are no examples of lower class footwear in the museum collection. Not wanting to make a literal translation of the stripe shoes I decided to look at how footwear can reflect the social history of a particular period in time and, in this case, the contrast between the lives of the upper classes mistresses and their servants in the Georgian period.
Research suggested that as shoes were expensive, the lower classes tended to wear their shoes (which were practical and hardwearing unlike the silk shoes) until they fell apart. It is thought that servants might have ended up wearing hand-me-downs from their mistresses, and this partially inspired this installation.
My collection of reworked, mended, and patched together paper mock ups of latchet style shoes pinned to my studio wall kick started this body of work.
This installation (2004) was developed from research into concealed/chimney shoes and also the idea of producing a work that had the appearance of an ancient find displayed as a collection of convincing museum relics where history and function of the objects shown can only be partially known.
Shoes have been built into the fabric of houses under windowsills, staircases and the chimney- breast, often with other found objects, suggesting that the concealment had a ritual purpose. It was also believed that very worn footwear, usually from lower class wearers, provided protection against evil spirits that could harm the house or its inhabitants. There are also examples of concealed shoes that have, been deliberately cut.
The shoe-forms in this installation were constructed from embroidered Tyvek backed with a layer of wire knitting and subsequently partially melted with a heat gun to distort the form. Layers of varnish and wood stain were used to age them. Other items, which could have been personal adornment, are also included incorporating old buttons and worn braids.
Second Skin 5 pieces.
Shoe forms as discarded skins that came about after experimenting with surface designs, which combined knit, stitch and print: spin off from Relics.
Open-work, hand transferred double bed machine knitting in fine sewing cotton was first bonded to white Tissutex paper and stained with dark oak wood dye to form sheets of layered texture. Pattern pieces for latchets, uppers, heels and vamps were cut out and layered onto craft (pelmet) Vilene, decorated with silver metallic stitching and block prints. Further coats of wood stain were added dissolving and blurring areas of the print and darkening the bonded knitting, at this point taking on the appearance of discarded snakeskin.