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Artwork by Patrick DolanMore Information

These boots are made for walking…

2013-03-29 15.29.40

I know very few people here who were actually born in Nottingham. It’s probably the same in any British city these days but has always struck me as funny – the Nottingham folk have been overrun by us intruders who refuse to leave. Now there’s an exhibition to celebrate us interlopers.

From the Yard Gallery exhibition, Wollaton Hall

Boots and Routes is inspired by a collection of historical shoes and the journeys of people who travelled to Nottingham from all over the world. The Mezzanine Gallery at Nottingham Castle features shoes from across Afghanistan, China, Sudan, Turkey and India as well as stilettos from Nottingham (keeping it classy) and red satin heels from Pakistan (is it me or is there something magic about the words red satin heels?)

The Yard Gallery at Wollaton Hall invites you to step inside the shoes of people who have travelled to Nottingham and share their experiences. The exhibition combines photos, quotes, stories, shoes and short films and explores the theme of migration, home and identity.

The exhibition is inspired by the Castle’s extensive costume collection but was made human by the work of the Universal Roots steering group who worked with groups of volunteer learners participating in creative workshops which allowed them to gain new skills in research, design and exhibition planning. The People’s Gallery at the Castle hosts a photography exhibition which tells the story of these volunteers and documents what it’s like to curate an exhibition for the first time.

Nottingham seems right for this kind of exhibition if only because it’s such a good city to walk around – being the size it is means you can cover it on foot pretty easily. And shoes can be so personal to us, can mean so much. A good pair of shoes can boost confidence (and height), can ease backache, can stop us from falling. They are our constant companions.  For those of us who have arrived in Nottingham and made it our home, this exhibition gives us a chance to reflect “Will we ever feel properly at home here?” Or are we destined to be forever “other?” Where will our shoes lead us?

To celebrate this properly I thought it might be fun to collate our own exhibition. If you, like me, are from elsewhere, take a picture of your shoes and add them to our Facebook page. Tell us where you’re from and tell us your story! I’ve done mine – let’s hear yours.

The Boots and Routes exhibition runs at Nottingham Castle from now until 20 October. The exhibition at the Yard Gallery at Wollaton is open until 2 June. You can find more details at the website or Facebook group


Sue is one of our team of bloggers. She has an extensive shoe collection but can most often be found in brown knee high boots that need re-heeling. She can be reached on sue AT creativenottingham.com and followed on Twitter @basfordian