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  • Kate Hopkins-Searle

SWA 160th Open Exhibition


The exhibition opened online two days ago on 21st September 2021. I am very pleased to have had two pieces accepted. You can find me by clicking here.


Frederike is from my Klimt series, a range of shoes inspired by the Gustav Klimt (1862-1918) portraits of elaborately dressed Austrian society women. Friederike Maria Beer was a young Viennese society lady who commissioned the painting. She modelled for it wearing a hand-painted silk dress and a short fur coat. Klimt, taken with the colourful lining of the coat, asked her to wear it inside out. The dress and coat fabrics have been interpreted by carving their patterns into the surface of the clay then velvet underglaze colours applied by brush to portray the painterly effects of the image. The versicolour carpet with its floral motif is alluded to on the sides of the shoes. The style of the shoe is based on those made by the Italian shoemaker Pietro Yantorny (1874-1936), the self-proclaimed "most expensive shoemaker in the world" who created shoes only for the wealthiest women.


My ceramic shoe sculptures are my encapsulations of the beauty and style within historical portraits of fashionable women. Starting with the love that I share with many people for shoes, I take references from the clothing and surrounding features of these portraits to create idealistic pairs of shoes for the sitters. Typically, in such portraits, the shoes are only glimpsed or not seen at all & yet like a modern Emirati woman who wears designer clothes under her abaya these women would have paid as much attention to exquisite footwear as they did to the rest of their elaborate and fashionable clothing. My ceramic shoes pay homage to the talent of the painter, the fashionable taste of the sitter and the skill of the craftspeople that produced their attire.


Having trained both in ceramics and custom footwear I combine these skills to produce Art Shoes that are hand-built in clay but in a manner not dissimilar to handmade leather shoes. Elements of fabric and fashion such as bows, ruffles, braiding and beading are beautifully reproduced in clay using modelling, glazes & precious metal lustres.

Hygieia is from my Klimt series, a range of shoes inspired by the Gustav Klimt (1862-1918) portraits of elaborately dressed Austrian society women. The figure of Hygieia is a detail from a much larger painting destroyed during WWII. She is the goddess of Health and stands with the Aesculapian snake around her arm and the cup of Lethe in her hand. These shoes reflect both her ornate red robe and the dark headdress which are decorated with stylised gold patterns. The shape of the shoe is based on those made by the Italian shoemaker Pietro Yantorny (1874-1936), the self-proclaimed "most expensive shoemaker in the world" who created shoes only for the wealthiest women.



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