Western Suburbs Weekly - - Weekly Life - Tanya Macnaughton

THE irony of Art Gallery of WA pre­sent­ing the only Aus­tralian dis­play of Toronto ex­hi­bi­tion The Rise of Sneaker Cul­ture has not been lost on AGWA con­tem­po­rary de­sign and in­ter­na­tional art cu­ra­tor Robert Cook.

“While grow­ing up in Perth, this was the place you could get no sneak­ers,” Cook said.

“You were limited to Big W or Kmart and would get your Run­ner’s World mag­a­zine and see ev­ery­thing that was hap­pen­ing in Amer­ica that was amaz­ing and all you could do was pine for it.”

The tour­ing ex­hi­bi­tion, seen in Brook­lyn, At­lanta and Oak­land, ex­am­ines the de­vel­op­ment of the thing we now know as sneak­ers, from pro­to­types that look more like a dress shoe while de­sign­ers fig­ured out what a sneaker’s pur­pose was, to the kicks of to­day.

“We’ve been do­ing cre­ative pro­gram­ming called Cul­ture Juice, ba­si­cally want­ing to con­nect with a dif­fer­ent au­di­ence group or de­mo­graphic,” Cook said. “Sneak­ers are the demo­cratic medium of the 20th cen­tury. We all

have them and they’re some­body else’s artis­tic ex­pres­sion but we turn them into our own.”

Cook en­listed the help of Curtin Univer­sity graphic de­sign lec­turer Lee In­gram as his “sneak­er­head-in-res­i­dence” for the ex­hi­bi­tion sea­son.

In­gram is a col­lec­tor of more than 800 pairs of sneak­ers and worked with Asics on the 25th an­niver­sary of its sig­na­ture Gel-lyte III shoe.

A sam­ple of In­gram’s col­lec­tion is on dis­play in a WA Col­lec­tors ex­hi­bi­tion on the ground floor of the AGWA be­fore the main ex­hi­bi­tion on the first floor.

“What I like about shoes is that it’s a col­lec­tion you can dis­play on a daily ba­sis,” In­gram said.

“I spent many hours cu­rat­ing what it was that I wanted to show; choos­ing footwear with sto­ries be­hind them, whether they were em­bed­ded nar­ra­tives from the re­lease or whether it was a per­sonal story for me.

“A lot of the stuff in this ex­hi­bi­tion is about nostal­gia, so most of the shoes I’ve cho­sen have a spe­cial place in my heart.”

In­gram lived on the streets of Fre­man­tle from the age of 14 be­fore study­ing graphic de­sign at Curtin Univer­sity in 1994.

“When I first started study­ing de­sign, we had to de­sign a chair and from that mo­ment forth I never looked at a chair again with­out con­sid­er­ing all the thought that went be­hind it and all the sto­ries that got told around it,” he said.

“That’s a sim­i­lar thing with this ex­hi­bi­tion be­cause for a lot of peo­ple shoes are just shoes; they don’t con­sider how much thought has gone into the de­vel­op­ment, from the choice of ma­te­ri­als and colours to the tech­no­log­i­cal ad­vance­ments in the de­sign.”

Pic­ture: An­drew Ritchie d468990

Sneaker col­lec­tor and de­signer Lee In­gram and ex­hi­bi­tion cu­ra­tor Robert Cook.

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