Modern Icons: Shoes: Jane Mulfinger invites people to empathise with 20 pairs of shoes cast from pure crystal

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The Independent Culture
Shoes meant a lot to Van Gogh. From the 1880s he painted his own many times - an anthropomorphic self-portrait with the tangible evidence of decaying leather as a metaphor for man's own creeping decrepitude. A hundred years later footwear is still on the artist's agenda. In 1989, Lisa Milroy painted Shoes (five rows), Imelda Marcos fashion, ranged en masse, and in the same year, Gilbert and George created their own eulogy to the culture of the Boot. 'A love letter', George called it. Now, in a work some years in the making, Jane Mulfinger has chosen to examine the enduring power of the shoe as momento mori by casting 20 pairs of Salvation Army cast-offs in pure crystal.

'I got a readership at the experimental glass workshop in New York. That they should be made from glass was especially important because of the fragility, but also because they're almost not there. They can actually disappear in certain lighting.' This impermanence is vital, providing 'a little bit of humour' in a wry aside to Cinderella's glass slipper. But Mulfinger wants us to read her shoes on a deeper level: 'I want to give them a presence, as if someone were actually standing in them. I really believe people can feel an empathy with the shoes as emotive objects. It's almost as if you might have worn them yourself. They are charged with collective memory - a semi-tragic vision.'

At the Mayor Gallery, 22a Cork St, London W1 (071- 734 3558). To 16 Sept

(Photograph omitted)

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