This project started out as a part of revisiting my childhood. I started collecting pictures of things I remembered from my earliest years as well as pictures of the things I was dreaming of having as a little girl. I loved pretty dresses and shoes as much as I hated stockings and tights with uncomfortable seams. One of my most vivid memories is how much I wanted a pair of red patent shoes looking something like this in my mind’s eye…
Now remember, I grew up in Sweden in the seventies so aspiring to be a little princess was NOT easy! The unisex dress code definitely applied to toddlers and young children as well as to teenagers and adults. No princesses unless in denim – flared jeans and flat shoes were the uniform, at least until ABBA hit the arena and introduced the platform shoes.
I didn’t get a pair like these ones exactly, but I remember sleeping with my first pair of patent shoes next to me on my pillow. And for a strange reason, pretty shoes always triggered a kind of nostalgia to me. I still just love them.
Shoes are also a very heavily charged symbolic item used to describe the condition of human life. Being without shoes indicates poverty in most cultural and historical settings and the opposite tells, not only that you are not that poor, but in which social rank you belong as well. Among a lot of other things your shoes signals who you are (or want to be) in the eyes of others. Several shoes that I’ve depicted in this series are outworn, antique shoes with a story we would dream to know anything about. Who wore them when they were brand new? Where they inherited from an older sibling? Where were they used? You can view all of them in my gallery. Click on any pair to see a larger format.
This leads me to think of one of the world’s most famous short stories. It’s also about shoes and could be a manual of excellent writing if you are a budding author… It’s a six word novel attributed to Ernest Hemingway.
“For sale: baby shoes, never worn.”