A new exhibition at King’s Museum, designed by a group of anthropology, archaeology and history postgraduate students from the University of Aberdeen, will explore the surprising paths our feet tread.
The exhibition, entitled A Single Step, brings together a wide variety of ideas and materials not normally associated with feet, including items from the University’s fine art, ethnographic, zoological, medical and scientific instrument collections, to blur the lines between mind and body.
It has been curated by students as part of a postgraduate course during which they take on all aspects of producing an exhibition from researching the topic to selecting objects from the University’s collections, designing the layout, writing labels and marketing the event.
Sarah Edwards, who is studying for a Master’s degree in history, took on the role of project manager. She said: “When we were given the keyword ‘feet’ at the beginning of the project in February, we wanted to avoid doing just another exhibition on shoes.
“Instead, we focused on how we as humans think about our feet, how the different ways we use our feet can tell us a lot about ourselves, and why some of us attach great significance to feet in our thoughts and actions, often without realising it.
“A Single Step touches on a number of different themes that challenge the understanding of our feet as mere body parts.”
The exhibition opens on Friday June 1 and will run until August 27 at King’s Museum, High Street, Old Aberdeen.
Among the specimens and models on display from the University’s medical collections will be preserved human feet specimens, some with serious signs of injury and disease which can tell us a lot about the societies and status of the people that they came from. Other items on display include a fragment of the Great Wall of China, one of the best known artificial barriers to journeys on foot and, at the same time, a popular destination for walkers today, and a giant papier-mâché snail.
Lead researcher Neillian MacLachlan, currently studying for a Master’s in anthropology, said that for her coming up with ideas for the exhibition was like a journey in itself.
“By showing our line of thought from its beginning, our first step, with the shape of feet through to their place in politics, travel, religion and even language, we want to give a sense in the displays of the personal journey of discovery that we each took.”
Neil Curtis, Head of Museums at the University of Aberdeen, said: “It is always exciting to see new perspectives on the collection and this year’s students have worked very hard to draw together a fascinating range of objects and equally interesting ideas to create a very impressive and professional exhibition.”
There will be a full programme of events accompanying the exhibition throughout July and August including pre-bookable storytelling sessions, where storyteller Grace Banks will share feats of courage and journeys of peril. In addition, there will be drop-in craft sessions for visitors of all ages to try their hand at decorating shoes to see what their feet can say about them, and also a chance for more daring visitors to test their balance on the slackline.
Visitors will be encouraged to take the ideas they pick up in the museum outdoors, by using instructions and ideas for different types of intriguing trails around the University campus that relate to the different elements of the exhibition.
A Single Step, will be open in King’s Museum, 17 High Street, Old Aberdeen, from Friday June 1 2012 to August 27 2012. Opening hours are 10am-4pm Monday, Wednesday-Friday, 10am-7.30pm Tuesday, 11am-4pm Saturday.