Ride ‘em Cowboy
Cowboy boots were traditionally worn by men who rode all day on horseback. The narrow toe of the boot made it easier for the cowboy to find the stirrup quickly when he mounted, and a reinforced steel arch braced him while he rode and roped standing up. The Cuban heel prevented his foot from slipping in the stirrup.
First appearing in the 1860s they may have developed from boots worn by military officers in the civil war or the footwear of Spanish conquistadors in South America.
Decoration varies widely. Early boots were made from cowhide pieces sewn together, but very soon cowboys began asking for decorative stitching, cutouts in the high tops like Texas stars and different materials. Modern examples can be highly decorated and come in the most lurid colours and materials including alligator and ostrich.
Cowboy boots have become an icon of American culture through Hollywood films and have been in and out of fashion ever since. Famous wearers include James Dean, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Bruce Springsteen and Rene Zellweger.
Cowboy Boots 1940s
This 1940s example was made in Texas.
As the Tour de France kicks off this weekend, we are proud to present a pair of cycling shoes worn by the legendary English racing cyclist, Beryl Burton. Burton dominated women’s cycle racing in the UK, winning more than 90 domestic championships and seven world titles as well as setting numerous national records. In 1967, she set a new 12-hour time trial record of 277.25 miles – a mark that surpassed the men’s record of the time by 0.73 miles and was not superseded by a man until 1969.
She also set around 50 new national records at 10, 15, 25, 30, 50 and 100-mile distances; her final 10, 25 and 50-mile records each lasted 20 years before being broken, her 100-mile record lasted 28 years, and her 12-hour record still stands today. And with such an impressive track record, Beryl’s accomplishments led her to compete in the Grand Prix des Nations in 1967, which was a rare opportunity for women cyclists.
These shoes were worn by Burton in 1961 and they were made by Peter Salisbury of Rushden, Northamptonshire. They have a rounded up curved toe with two studs and a metal plate on the sole to fit over the pedals.
Beryl Burton Cycle Shoes
Beryl’s shoes will be on display in the Life and Sole Gallery from 1st to 31st July 2014. For more information about Northampton Museum & Art Gallery’s collections and exhibitions, visit: www.northampton.gov.uk/museums
Will He or Won’t He?
These Nike Zoomair, 2010 have been worn and signed by Swiss tennis player Roger Federer.
They were purchased at a MAGS (Mines Advisory Group) charity auction using part of a Heritage Lottery Fund Collecting Cultures grant to increase the number of trainers and sports shoes we have in our collection.
Wimbledon starts on Monday 23 June and Roger Federer is currently ranked number 4 in the world. Federer has had an illustrious career. He has won a male tennis record 16 Grand Slam singles titles. He is one of seven male players to capture the career Grand Slam, and one of only three (along with Andre Agassi and Rafael Nadal) to do so on three different surfaces (clay, grass and hard courts).
Federer has appeared in an astonishing 22 career Grand Slam finals and holds the record of reaching the semi-finals or better of 23 consecutive Grand Slam tournaments over five and a half years from the 2004 Wimbledon Championships through to the 2010 Australian Open.
Many sports analysts, tennis critics, and former and current players consider Federer to be the greatest tennis player of all time. But, will he win this year’s Wimbledon?
Women on Wheels
On 7 May Northamptonshire hosted the first stage of The Women’s Tour – a race with over 100 of the world’s best female riders. The field included current and former Olympic medallists and World Champions competing to become the first-ever Women’s Tour champion.
Reigning World and Olympic champion Marianne Vos won the Tour, but we were excited to see that the best placed British riders were both local girls; Lucy Garner from Leicestershire in 7th and Hannah Barnes from Northamptonshire in 8th.
Women on Wheels
Northampton Museum & Art Gallery is celebrating the event and women’s cycling with its latest exhibition – WOW – Women on Wheels.
Part of the exhibition is looking at some of the best modern cyclists, including feature displays that focus on Lucy and Hannah. And we are sure you will feel inspired looking at the great action shots, equipment and memorabilia that makes competitive cycling one of the most popular and colourful sports to follow.
Women on Wheels
We are also delighted to include objects that belonged to Beryl Burton, arguably the best and most successful female cyclist. Beryl dominated in the world of cycling for over 20 years in the 1960s and 70s. Her speciality was that of time trialling, but she also excelled in road and pursuit races by winning titles in both at a national and international level and regularly outperforming male competitors.
Women on Wheels
Next cycling events with Northampton Museum & Art Gallery
17 May 10am – 4pm | Free
Northampton Museum & Art Gallery
The Big Ride!
30 May 6 – 9pm
Northampton Museum & Art Gallery
May 20 marks the 150th anniversary of the death of John Clare.
John Clare was born in the Northamptonshire village of Helpston on 13 July 1793. The English poet was the son of a farm labourer. He is often considered to be among the most important 19th century poet and was known as “the Northamptonshire Peasant Poet”.
Living in the Northamptonshire countryside had a strong impact upon Clare’s work. His childhood spent working in the rural landscape is a topic that he continuously refers to in his poetry and he had a passion for the small details in the natural world. Clare’s poetry also reflects the impact enclosure and industrialisation was having upon those around him. Indeed, a large amount of Clare’s poetry is born out of his need to record the landscapes and traditions around him that would soon be changed and gone forever.
Throughout his life he suffered from mental illness which led him to being committed to a private asylum in Epping Forest in 1837. He left the asylum, walking all the way home to Helpston and his sweetheart who had tragically died before he arrived.
In 1841 he was admitted to the County Lunatic Asylum in Northampton – now St. Andrews Hospital. Clare was allowed the freedom to take walks and he continued to write, taking nature as his inspiration to convey the beauty of landscape. He often visited the town centre and was a familiar figure sat on the porch of All Saints Church, where he read and wrote poetry whilst observing everyday life passing by.
To mark this anniversary, Northampton Museum and Art Gallery presents an exhibition, John Clare and The Shepherd’s Calendar, which runs until 8 June.
The exhibition celebrates John Clare’s appreciation of the seasonal cycles and the natural year. The collection of poems ‘The Shepherd’s Calendar’ is illustrated by the artist Peter Newcombe.
Corsets and Cabaret
Deriving from the Italian word ‘burlesco’, meaning a joke or mockery the word Burlesque has been used since the 17th century, in the 19th century the word was used to describe comedy theatre. All female casts, often dressed as men, in tights, performed caricature, parody and extravaganza.
Burlesque was popular in the United States from the 1860s to the 1940s in a variety show format, often in cabarets and clubs, as well as theatres. In the early 1900s American Burlesque arrived in France. French cabarets created reviews and presented them creating the birth of famous, spectacular venues like the Les Folies Bergeres.
During this time, on the other side of the Atlantic, Burlesque events were increasing and icons were born; Josephine Baker and Anna Held are among the most famous. At this time jazz music was everywhere and numerous bands played in clubs, accompanying the dancers across the United States.
As the Second World War began and these shows began to diminish until the 1950s when pin-up girls then became fashionable. With the birth of Rock ‘n’ Roll the pin-up girls became forever linked with burlesque.
In the 70’s and 80’s, Burlesque had nearly disappeared. But since the 1990s there has been a resurgence of interest of this style of entertainment.
For more information please email firstname.lastname@example.org
On Wednesday 9 April Northampton Museum and Art Gallery hosted the Imagination Museum, a contemporary dance performance devised by the award winning choreographer Katie Green.
Funded by the Arts Council the performance brought together art, history, dance and drama in an innovative piece that awoke everyone’s curiosity to explore museums.
Katie has created a wonderful introduction to dance theatre inspired by the diverse artefacts found in museum collections nationwide. Every collection contains a vast amount of material and each object has a story to tell. This piece helps people to connect with their local heritage through these stories and suggests different ways of thinking about something you find in a museum.
Led by three amazing dancers, all professional and great at character performance, the audience were taken on a tour of the museum. These eccentric tour guides brought to life a series of artefacts through words and movement and encouraged audience participation…and dusting!
The Imagination Museum was very popular in Northampton and lots of positive comments from everyone lucky enough to attend. To see for yourself click on the links below.