September 30, 2019
We ran a pilot/research project for one of our regular groups to research and explore Norwich’s shoe industry, thus gaining knowledge of their local heritage. It was based at KindaKafe which used to be the Ponds Shoe shop in Norwich.
We visited The Bridewell Museum twice, to see their shoe and boot collection, The Norfolk Records Office to look back at the history of the shoe industry here in Norwich, the costume and textile collection at The Castle Study Centre, took a tour of the secret street below the old Ponds shoe shop, had regular supported research visits to The Heritage Centre at The Millennium Library as well as a tour of the shoe factories and shops of Norwich.
The trips were a catalyst for further research centred around creative journal making, mapping the shoe industry and shoe design and making. We also spoke to women that worked in the factories about their experiences and recorded their oral histories, giving the group an insight into what it was like to be part of the local shoe industry.
It was an absolutely fantastic project and include a beautiful exhibition at St Marys Works which was an old shoe factory as part of Norwich Heritage Open days. Thanks so much to The Heritage Lottery for supporting this project.
The project was independently evaluated by The Restoration Trust and the conclusion to this is below:
This well organised and carefully run project has successfully engaged people who are seldom seen in heritage venues with the history of their own city, in a way that has benefitted their wellbeing.
Participants have really enjoyed extending their knowledge and creativity in the context of a friendly, safe group, and the project is inclusive and people-led.
Members of the group have contributed to the heritage of Norwich by making oral histories, through personal and group research, and by creating beautiful artwork that illuminates the story of the city’s shoe industry in new imaginative ways.
Slippers to Stilettos is an exemplary heritage and wellbeing pilot, and the learning gained by Art at Work and the group members can readily be used for a major project.