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The Worshipful Company of Cordwainers

Shoemaker Andy Burke with apprentices from Churc's at Northampton College with  apart made pair of Venetian chopines

Shoemaker Andy Burke with shoe apprentices from Church's shoe factory at Northampton College with the part made chopines, 2019

The Worshipful Company of Cordwainers grant projects

In 2019 we were privileged to receive generous grant funding from the The Worshipful Company of Cordwainers for two distinct shoe projects.

Part of the grant enabled us to commission historical reproduction shoemaker Andy Burke to make a pair of Venetian chopines to go on display in our new shoe gallery.

Chopines were an extraordinary style which emerged in the 1400s in Italy, particularly Venice and Spain. They could reach heights of up to 450mm (18 in). Made with a very tall, usually cork platform, these shoes elevated the wearer protecting their dress from mud and street dirt. For wealthy women, wearing shoes that made themselves practically immobile was an indication of their social standing plus the amount of cork and silk brocade or leather required to cover the platform would have been very expensive. 

The chopines will be on display in the first history of shoe fashions case in the new shoe gallery. This area of the gallery explores shoe fashions in the Western world from 5330 BCE to the present day.

Andy Burke also shared his shoemaking skills and experience with shoemaking apprentices who attend Northampton College. In June 2019 he held a workshop with apprentices from Church’s shoe factory at the College talking about the range of work he does; historic and heritage elements of shoe making and included a practical session with the apprentices working on some hand processes. It was a lively day of knowledge exchange and many questions from the apprentices.

Andy Burke with a shoe apprentice from Church's, Northampton at Northampton College.

andy, burke, apprentice, college, grant, Northampton

The second project was an oral history interview with Meta Cunder the 2019 Footwear Student of the Year winner. We were able to purchase one of her amazing shoes and she also donated some of her designs on paper. Her archive will become an important part of the shoe collection and we hope to replicate this annually to create a Cordwainer Footwear Student of the Year archive collection. Meta’s shoe will go on display in the museum’s history of the museum case.

Meta Cunder with her amazing shoe purchased for the shoe collection by The Worshipful Company of Cordwainers grant

Meta, Cunder, shoe, design, shark