Associated Exhibitions & Events

Sole Searching: an exhibition of shoes and stories of waste and want

By Nick Gant and Tanya Dean

Thursday 19th and Friday 20th September for Making Futures delegates.

Note that this small research exhibition will form a part of the (Re)making meaning: valorization in a wasteful world workshop, convened by Nick Gant, co-founder of Community21.org and Principal Lecturer, the School of Architecture and Design, University of Brighton. As such it will likely be on show within the workshop space and open to delegates who are not part of the workshop to visit during breaks in the schedule.

This is a modest exhibition of a ‘making-research’ methodology and objects that have been created to research how (as makers) we generate material meanings and elevate the value of waste materials through their material language and the stories that are embodied within them.

'Sole Searching', Nick Gant and Tanya Dean

The method consists of pairs of shoes - each pair and its associated story structured around four key characters and elements - the waste materials, processes of making, the different users and the shoes. The materials range from everyday waste streams like marine and single use plastics to more unorthodox waste such as dog hair, designer spectacles and even human breast milk.

As arbiters, the shoes make accessible (what are) aspects of wasteful contemporary culture, material ethics, sustainability, science and/or innovation. But moreover they reveal the complex and nuanced ways in which we can communicate through waste materials as a language and how we can exploit this lexicon for craft campaigning, product propaganda and design for desire.

The research has been developed through a sustained process of creation and iterative reflection via numerous workshops with global retail brands and industrial, public and academic audiences over the last decade. It culminates in the formation of a ‘Valorisation Framework’ that explicates how we can systematically add value to waste through ‘narratology’ to counteract wasteful and polluting consumer cultures and reveal more ‘virtuous circular economies’.