Saturday, November 29, 2014

Spielzeug Welten Museum Basel: Shoe Exhibition

Spielzeug Welten Museum Basel, Switzerland. The exhibition runs until Apr. 6 and has been organized with the Northampton Museums and Art Gallery in England. The oldest shoe in the exhibition comes from Egypt, and dates from around 1,000 B.C. Since the Stone Age, women have been the collectors and men more likely the hunters, the event’s organizers state. Throughout history, the shoe has come to symbolize social status and membership of particular social groups. The shoe has always had an important fashion function, reflecting the social status or group affiliation of the wearer, the release states. In ancient Egypt, only pharaohs were allowed to wear sandals with gold or silver plating, and only high officials and priests could wear sandals at all. The general population went barefoot. Among the ancient Greeks in around 700 B.C., an ordinance was issued regulating the use of jewels on sandals. In the Roman Empire, there were clear rules as to who could wear which shoes and how they could be decorated. During the Middle Ages, the tip length of the then-fashionable pointed shoes revealed one’s social standing. At the time of the Sun King Louis XIV (1643–1715, King of France and Navarre), only the king and high nobility were permitted to wear red heels. Just as one’s footwear was important as a sign of rank and wealth, voluntarily forsaking one’s shoes held special significance, signalling humility and penitence, the events organizers note. For many cultures, it was customary to go shoeless when approaching the divine. Religious missions and pilgrimages were sometimes undertaken barefoot; the custom lives on in the Mediterranean region today. More recently, the shoe has become a canvas for art, and more than 30 artists from across the globe have made their artistic shoe creations available for the show. At the show, Thomas Murphy, an English shoemaker of bespoke shoes for the young and old, will demonstrate his craft on some weekends. Visitors will have the chance to see how shoes made by hand are crafted today, and they will also have the opportunity to try their hand at a bit of shoe-making themselves.

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