Northampton Exhibition - Blog
Posted: Mon, 06 Aug 2012 14:07
Another diary entry from the public:
21 February 1991
It's not fair! So want a pair of Dr Martens but mum won't let me. I swear that when I'm old enough to earn my own money, I will buy anything I want.
17th June 2012
I now own roughly 100 pairs of shoes. Do I have a problem??
Posted: Mon, 16 Jul 2012 15:33
One of the certainties of life is that death is inevitable.
Funerary ceremonies are conducted throughout the world to mark the end of one's journey through life, the possible passing to another life or afterlife and to celebrate the life of the deceased.
In some cultures footwear is a vital part of this process. The departed often wear significant shoes, as do those mourning the loss of a loved one.
In China 'longevity shoes' embroidered with a lotus flower and a ladder were worn by the deceased to help them travel to the afterlife. In the UK it is customary to wear formal black footwear when attending a funeral or memorial service.
Many superstitions also surround death and footwear.
The burning of old shoes is believed to be a way to dispense bad spirits, whilst in China banging shoes against a doorway is a way of calling wandering souls to return.
Throughout Europe and America it has been traditional to leave one's shoes to your children hence the phrase 'follow in your father's footsteps' probably because shoes were prohibitively expensive.
The death section of the exhibition at Northampton Museum & Art Gallery travels to North America, Africa and Egypt and explores various funeral ceremonies. Shoes not only aid us in our first steps but also guide us through our last.
First Nations Mohawk, Turtle Clan, North America
Made from a single piece of plaited cornhusk by members of the Turtle Clan. Originally only worn by the deceased at funerals, young members of the tribe now make burial shoes for sale.
Corn as a food material was found abundantly in America. In a cosmological myth corn was said to have sprung from the breasts of mother earth, therefore it played an important role in rituals.
Posted: Tue, 19 Jun 2012 11:36
Warfare is a constant reality for many people across the world and it has a direct, dramatic and lasting impact on their lives.
Wellington, when asked the most important part of a soldier's equipment replied:
'Firstly a pair of good shoes; secondly, a second pair of good shoes, and thirdly, a pair of half-soles.'
The success of military endeavours can hinge on an army's feet. Whilst mechanisms of waging war have advanced and changed with time, footwear still remains a vital form of protection for front line soldiers. Shoes can also be used as a form of uniform to define an army or organisation.
Northampton's shoe factories made footwear for soldiers across the world during the First and Second World Wars. During World War One about 70 million pairs of footwear were produced for the British forces and its allies and over two thirds of them were made in Northamptonshire.
During wartime footwear for civilian or occupied people is often limited due to lack of resources and rationing. Civilian populations and those interned in camps overcame this through inventive use of available materials and by making their own shoes.
In Arab and Middle Eastern culture shoes are considered dirty and are used in protest and celebration at the overthrow of dictators. In Baghdad when statues of Saddam Hussein were pulled down, the first response by locals was to beat them with their shoes.
Textile and wood
Peter Ainsworth, a war correspondent for the "Picture Post", reputedly brought these boots back from the Bergen-Belsen Concentration camp in 1945.
The inmates in the camp were forced to work and were divided into units, the largest of which was the "Shoe Unit". It is possible that this boot is one of the products of the unit.
Wagons full of old shoes were collected from all over Germany and sent to Bergen-Belsen by train. The Shoe Unit then stripped them and cut out all the re-useable parts as material for new shoes. We do not know if these new shoes were produced for use in the camp itself or for distribution throughout the local population or even the German Army.
This boot is completely made of recycled materials except for the wooden soles. The toecap and the other leather parts seem to have been cut from old shoe uppers and bottom leather. The two quarters are possibly made from old uniform material and are joined by a canvas strap. The vamp, or front part, may be a piece of tent canvas.
To prevent wear of the wood, the sole is reinforced with leather pieces – old sole material and heel top piece.
Posted: Mon, 11 Jun 2012 15:35
On the 8th June, visitors participated in a free Japanese workshop led by Japanese lecturer, Akemi Solloway who is the daughter of an old samurai family and grew up immersed in the traditional arts and culture of Japan.
Throughout the day, those that took park learnt about:
- The history of Japan
- Certain traditions incl. the Kimono
- The Shinto religion
- Japanese etiquette
- Making origami
- and even had a taste of sushi.
- The kimono can show a persons marital status by the length of the sleeves If the sleeves are long, then that person is single and if the sleeves are short then they are married.
- Guests must always remove their shoes when visiting someone in their home.
- When you eat or drink you should always make noise (slurping and chewing) to show your appreciation of the food that was prepared for you.
Posted: Wed, 06 Jun 2012 10:36
On the 11th May 2012, visitors of the museum participlated in a Free Adinkra Stamping workshop which was in association with the World at your Feet exhibition. The workshop linked mainly to the 'death' section of the exhibition and the African culture as stamping pattern onto cloth is one of Africa's oldest textile traditions. In Ghana, Adinkra (the cloth) has an important ceremonial function, especially at funerals. Every stamped symbol has a meaning and significance and there are whole 'pictionaries' of interpretations.
Visitors learnt about the cloth and took part in making their own unique patterns and symbol designs.
Posted: Tue, 29 May 2012 09:36
Marriage is the union of two individuals. This is celebrated globally by culturally unique ceremonies, which publicly mark the couple's commitment.
Traditional wedding costumes are integral to the celebration of marriage. Shoes, in particular, have a rich history of being the focus of many auspicious practices. From customs that encourage good fortune to playful traditions, these first steps of a newlywed couple are seen as pointing them in the direction of a happy, fruitful, prosperous and successful union.
Footwear is also linked to marital luck and this is often connected to wealth and fertility for the couple. Writing names on the sole of the bride's shoes is a common custom at Greek weddings; depending upon which names rub off, it could mean the number of children the bride will have, or which of her friends will marry first.
In many cultures brides will make their own shoes and their embroidery skill will be part of this process.
The picture on the right shows a paper and satin 'Confetti Shoe' from Northampton. The shoe is covered with confetti and was made by the female employees of Sears Factory, given as a wedding gift to a colleague, Edith Crouch, at her wedding to Frederick Arthur Amos at St. Michael's Church in Northampton on August 2nd, 1923.
In the UK it is custom to throw or tie shoes to the back of the newlyweds' car. The shoes can be wishing the newlyweds good luck, wishing them a large family or symbolising the passing of the bride from her father to the groom.
Visit the World at your Feet exhibition and travel with us to India, China and Middle East and explore different wedding traditions people conduct and the importance of footwear during these varied and colourful marriage ceremonies.
Posted: Thu, 17 May 2012 14:39
Ankle strap sandal
Synthetic and mock pearls
Alisha Hill, USA
These shoes are similar to pairs worn at Quinceanera parties.
Quinceanera is the celebration of a girl's 15th birthday, which originates in Latin American traditions. This birthday is celebrated differently from any other as it marks the transition from childhood to young womanhood.
During the Quinceanera ceremony 'The Changing of the Shoe' plays a vital role as commonly the girls father or brother removes her flat shoe in exchange for one with a high heel signifiying the transition into adulthood
*These shoes are featured in the 'Coming of age' section in the exhibition
Posted: Thu, 03 May 2012 15:16
As part of the World at your Feet exhibition one of the themes explores 'Coming of age' were children make the transition into teenagers. Visitors are encouraged to write an entry in the diary.
July 15th 1990 (ages 15 years)
At Last!!! My first pair of DR Marten Boots. My friends are going to be SO jealous. Will wear them to the "Fan Club" on Sat night.
-it was hot, and I made the mistake of wearing them without
socks. OUCH :(
Posted: Thu, 19 Apr 2012 12:00
An Elevated Court Shoe by Vivienne Westood is on display in the World at your Feet exhibition.
The shoes, which were made in 2006, are a part of the 'recycling' section in the exhibition.
They were made using salvaged underground tube and bus seating fabrics, which represent the iconic textiles of London's past and present.
Posted: Thu, 19 Apr 2012 11:39
On friday the 13th we met a budding young artist who was found in our World at your Feet exhibition drawing some of his favourite pairs of shoes.
Johnny Dowling an 8 year old who has some sketching talent, has a special interest in our world footwear collection that is featured in our World at your Feet exhibition. Johnny told us that his favourite pair of shoes from the whole collection was the 1970 'Tauranwari Jutti' shoes from Pakistan. These shoes have pink and green pompops on the front of them.
The picture on the right shows Johnny and his drawing of the 2007 'Ballet style lace shoes' which were made in China.
If you would like to draw any of our shoes in the exhibition then bring your stationary along when you visit us and ask for a clip board from reception