The installation of Shoes: Pleasure and Pain started last week – and it is so exciting! To finally see the finished build and new design of the space in Gallery 40, is just amazing after months of planning and discussing. The space looks very different from previous exhibitions, intimate and quite dark on the ground floor while it is bright and rather cold on the mezzanine – reflecting the opposites of the title, ‘Pleasure and Pain’.
The first pair to be installed was David Beckham’s football boots, on loan from Manchester United Museum. They feature in the display discussing the importance of shoes in fairytales and folklore – even in modern myths. I must admit that I felt quite emotional to see them go in; to start seeing the fruition of all the research, stuff that has been in my head taking shape, yes, that is a really great feeling!
Installing an exhibition can be a bit fiddly, and there is usually not much room to manoeuvre within the cases – as there are plinths, poles, and other shoes to consider, but textile conservator Jo ducked and dived between the plinths and placed out the shoes beautifully. Here she is in the ‘Seduction’ case installing a pair of lovely red Victorian heeled boots, while I am on the other side of the glass trying to communicate the angle of the shoes, if they need to go more left or right. This is mostly done by body language, lots of pointing and some shouting as the glass is surprisingly sound proofed.
We have also installed 15 pair of shoes from Lionel Bussey’s collection – see a previous blog about the collector Lionel. The man had good taste in shoes!
This week some loans from other institutions are arriving, for example Bata Shoe Museum, Toronto and Nordiska Museet, Stockholm. I am honoured to welcome them to the V&A, and to be able to include their shoes in the exhibition.