GLOBAL FOOTPRINT, Northamptonshire – CALL TO ARTISTS / DESIGNER-MAKERS -Boot / Shoe Design – Commission Opportunity

Published:  20 April, 2012

Each region has its defining elements; Northamptonshire’s towns and villages enjoy a unique shared heritage recognised internationally for its boot and shoe industries, evidenced through Northampton Museum and Arts Gallery (NMAG), which houses the largest collection of shoe heritage in the world and designated as being of national and international importance. Accessories and Footwear are two of the fastest growing areas of the global fashion industry. It is a significant part of Northamptonshire’s creative economy as both an industry but also in terms of its reputation for excellence.


Nationally and internationally acclaimed shoe brands still exist in the county such as Dr Martens, Cheaneys, Church’s (owned by Prada), Crockett and Jones and Jeffrey West to name but a few.

Connected with this key local creative industry sits the University of Northampton (UoN) renowned for its fashion and textiles talent base, internationally acclaimed courses such as their MA in footwear design and links to the Worshipful Company of Cordwainers.

GLOBAL FOOTPRINT is an ambitious, large-scale arts and heritage project that builds on Northamptonshire’s international boot and shoe reputation, bringing key arts and heritage organisations and audiences together to celebrate this vitally important creative industry that defines the county as part of the London 2012 Cultural Olympiad and regional IGNITING AMBITION Festival.

Key partners to the programme include Northampton Museum and Art Gallery, The University of Northampton, and Northampton Arts Collective, in addition to several smaller independent heritage organisations in the county.

Artists / Designer-Maker Brief

 The Partners to GLOBAL FOOTPRINT therefore wish to commission up to 4 visionary artists / designer-makers to realise ambitious new boot/shoe prototypes that are informed by the stories, materials, technology/engineering and buildings of Northamptonshire’s shoe and boot industry, both past and present, to celebrate the London 2012 Games and mark its moment in UK history.

Commissioned artists / designer-makers will be expected to document their research and design process, producing appropriate concept drawings, photographs, digital film and material samples for exhibition and / or as part of a presentation talk to local UoN students alongside the final boot / shoe prototypes which will be exhibited at Northampton Museum and Art Gallery’s new ‘Shoe Lounge’ and at the University of Northampton. 

Other exhibition venues to be confirmed may include local independent shoe museums and libraries, but also potential exhibition at other major events in the county such as the Vintage Festival at Boughton House.  Digital content will also be uploaded onto the GLOBAL FOOTPRINT website.

The Partners will look to broker meetings with local boot / shoe designers and manufacturers if deemed appropriate and through UoN in particular can provide additional advice and expertise through the School of Arts which encompasses disciplines as varied as Fine Art & Photography, Fashion and Footwear Design, Textiles and Product Design, and also through ongoing collaboration with the Institute of Creative Leather Technologies, a unique leather research centre within the School of Science & Technology.

GLOBAL FOOTPRINT partners would also like the artists / designer-makers to consider the potential for one-off mementos or merchandise options that could be realised on the back of the commissions.  Additional funding and retail opportunities will be explored in such cases by the Partners should such an opportunity arise. 

 Project Management

Up to 4 artists / designer-makers will be selected by the Partners.  Ideally the Partners would like to have some of the commissions available for exhibition from the start of July to coincide with major events taking place in the county e.g. Vintage Festival, local school and national holidays.

A dedicated Arts Project Manager, supported by the Partners, will provide the day-to-day contact with selected artists / designer-makers and a PR agency will be appointed to promote GLOBAL FOOTPRINT nationally.

 Expression of interest

Invited artists / designer-makers are now requested to submit an expression of interest and outline proposal.

Up to 4 artists / designer-makers will be commissioned to deliver work as part of the GLOBAL FOOTPRINT programme with a fee of up to £4,000 excluding VAT available per commission to include artist / designer-maker fees, research, design, testing and construction. 

To submit an expression of interest and outline proposal(s) including fee please forward responses and brief CV to Graham Callister, Cultural Policy and Planning Manager, Northamptonshire County Council no later than April 29th 2012.

For further information regarding the project, please contact Graham via email or call 01604 336909.






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