I started volunteering at Northampton Museum in August 2012 and instantly began working on the Jeffery-West exhibition to mark their 25th anniversary.
My main role was to conduct research and gather information to write the content for the panels around the exhibition. I began researching the company and putting together a list of questions to ask one of the designers, Guy West in an interview. I had never interviewed anyone so I was nervous but excited to try it and get lots of interesting facts. Some of my favourite questions and answers were…
What is your favourite shoe that you’ve made to date?
‘Oh that’s a difficult one isn’t it? I think the one defining design that we did which is still recognised as a Jeffery-West shoe was what we called an arrow head brogue and it’s based on gothic architecture. We redesigned the wing tip on a brogue and used our diamond punching.’
What is the significance of your ‘heroes’ when it comes to designing shoes?
‘The attitude I think. Most of them were quite maverick, again fiercely individual and not really caring too much what other people say either.’
If you could design a pair of shoes for anyone dead or alive whom would it be and why?
‘It would have to be Richard Burton.I think probably when I was younger the whole glamour of him and Liz Taylor appealed, the yachts, the cars and the best looking girl but he also lived his life how he wanted to live his life.’
I have written all of the text for the panels that are around the exhibition, covering everything from the origins of the company to their collaborations with different creative people. We met regularly with Guy West to talk about the plans for the exhibition and the ideas that we had and it was great to be a part of the development of the exhibition.
My favourite part was the installation week where I worked with Guy West and the museum staff to get objects out from the collection, position items and see it all come together after months of preparation. I also really enjoyed learning about Northampton’s heritage and the great things and people to come from Northampton. From Science fiction writer Alan Moore, to Phipps Brewery and Photographer Rhys Frampton, Jeffery-West are proud to come from Northampton and work with local people and it’s nice to see the exhibition celebrate a success story from our county.