Northamptonshire is justly proud of a centuries-old tradition of producing the highest quality shoes in Britain. The unambiguous boast of “sixty-four stiches to the inch” is still used by local shoemakers and cobblers renowned for putting an unparalleled level of detail and painstaking quality into their footwear.
Now this cherished heritage is being celebrated in a series of contemporary art events for the Cultural Olympiad marking the county’s boot and shoe making heritage.
Global Footprint begins today (July 31) by hitching a ride on the Art Council’s Olympiad project, Godiva Awakes, which sees a 21st century, 33ft-high Lady Godiva stride across the county - stopping over in Northampton as she makes her way from Coventry to London.
Kicking off the first in a series of shoe related Global Footprint art events between now and the end of December, local shoe maker Horace Batten and designer Guy West are presenting the giant puppet with a handcrafted pair of bespoke riding boots to protect her feet on her journey.
It's the first part of a programme that ranges from outdoor artworks, exhibitions and events to trails, projections and talks that organisers are promising will deliver “imaginative art works” which use the latest digital technologies to make artworks pop up at various unusual and surprise locations around the county.
Among them, an installation by Dominic Wilcox called Field will feature hundreds of shoe laces in the air growing towards a light that creates a field of green on a bed of earth. There’s also a sound art installation by Robert Jarvis.
Stan's Café, a theatre company directed by James Yarker, will prepare an interactive work called Foot Steps, with colourful footsteps across Wellingborough town centre, designed to encourage people to discover hidden stories of the oft-trodden streets.
Northampton’s historic boot and shoe conservation area will benefit from a "virtually suspended" installation by Steve Messam during Heritage Open Days in September.
Aand at Northampton Museum, whose shoe collection is designated of national importance, a state-of-the-art pair of shoes designed by Jo Cope will be on display with an accompanying short film.
- For full information about the Godiva Awakes project visit www.imagineerproductions.co.uk. For more on Global Footprint visit www.globalfootprint.co.uk