Client: Keepmoat Homes
Location: Northampton, United Kingdom
Completion date: 2017
Artwork budget: $20,000
Castle Fine Arts Foundry
Composer and Pianist
A project to create a sculpture trail of shoes around Upton Place. Northampton has a centuries old connection to the fabrication of shoes and boots. Therefore shoes are a suitable theme to create a subtle trail of bronze shoes around the Keepmoat Housing section of the new development. Shoes provided an inspirational subject for students and local people to research, they each made a shoe in wax in workshops run by the artists. The waxes were cast into bronze at Castle Fine Arts Foundry with stainless steel fixings, so they could be attached to sites around Upton Place.
The artists worked with the local community to make the shoes and also created a website to chart the progress of the project and also to give themes to inspire the participants. Thirty three shoes were sited in a variety of situations, covering a large area of the development. The aim is to give local people, and children especially, a sculpture trail to discover, and to enjoy a theme which celebrates their local industry. A map of the trail is also available on the website - many of the road names in Upton Place are based on the following words or expressions used in the traditional shoe industry:- Barring; Bristle; Clickers; Jack Pin; Kiltie; Knot Tiers; Lacing; Moorcut; Padding; Rounding; Scribers; Skinners and Strobel.
For example a ‘Clicker’ was the traditional name for a person who cuts out the upper components of a shoe with the help of templates or clicking dies, and ‘Strobel' describes the specific way of stitching upper leathers and lining to the insole of footwear. Brunel Drive is named for the Northampton engineer, Marc Brunel, who developed machinery for the mass-production of boots for the soldiers of the British Army during the Napoleonic Wars.
The sculptors collaborated with Castle Fine Arts Foundry in making a shoes to be cast into bronze with their Free Wax promotion. Charlene Withall from Keepmoat Homes helped with the project, even making a shoe herself. Four workshops were undertaken, one with students and staff at Quinton House School, and two at Northampton Football Club via the Cobblers Outreach Programme with students from Northgate School and the Extra Time Club for the over fifties. A group of adults also attended a workshop at the artists studio. After everything was installed a shoe was given to both schools that participated in this project. The sites for the bronze shoes were chosen with Charles Langtree from the Land Trust and Keepmoat Homes.
www.shoesculptures.co.uk is the website we made for the project, with information on how the shoes were made, an inspiration page with links, and the student's subsequent designs, all the wax shoes, all the cast bronze shoes and the work after it was installed. This video details mainly the installation, with a few photos of the wax and bronzes shoes, and the workshops. The music comes from Lola Perrin's CD - By Peculiar Grace and other loves. www.lolaperrin.com