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Toe Shoes, Foot Fetish Series ‘Camilla’ by Gwen Murphy

Today we look at Toe Shoes, Foot Fetish Series ‘Camilla’ by Gwen Murphy for Artwork in Focus. Join me Divvya Nirula as I explore and present my experience of the selected artwork.

Artwork in Focus

Title: “Camilla” Foot Fetish #77
Artist : Gwen Murphy
Year : 2011
Medium : acrylics, ash clay, women’s faux snake skin pumps
Dimensions : unknown
Location : at Gallery in the Woods

Toe Shoes, Foot Fetish Series ‘Camilla’, 2011, by Gwen Murphy
Image Courtesy : Gwen Murphy Studio

The Artwork

Pointed black toes, and not very kitten heels, and a golden buckle as an accessory. How different they must’ve looked when they looked in a shop window, a shiny new pair of formal shoes, perhaps worn to office, to dinners – it could be anywhere. And who wore them? How did they look?

These are just some of the questions that come up in the mind when looking at Gwen Murphy’s unusual creations. The American sculptor Gwen Murphy is responsible for breathing new life into old shoes. Through her vision that allows her to see the individual personality of the shoes and transforms them into intriguing works of art. Even as a little girl, Gwen found that shoes stared back at her, and each pair had its own character and personality.

Depending on the independent model and their state, she worked her craft around them. Some shoes looked sleepy, others looked grouchy or fierce, some looked like they were happy. Gwen is able to bring out their personality, and gives them a gift of expressions. She works with ash clay and acrylic paint to create bulgy eyes and long faces or pouting lips. Every pair wears a unique face that expresses its distinctive character. Wooden shoes look blissful and primitive, leather shores that are worn out look beat, while high heel shoes might wear an arrogant look.

Other Details

As a youngster, Gwen perceived these shoes as a species of beings made entirely from pairs of identical twins. This fascination with shoes stayed with her all the way through adulthood.

Her artwork series, ‘Foot Fetish’ features numerous pairs of different shoes that Gwen has collected and worked on. Creating a gallery of different quirky faces.


These unique shoe sculptures use the long shape of the shoe sole as the face structure. The front of the shoe is used as a clever headpiece. Inside the shoe she places hand-carved pieces of wood with the interesting faces, animal or human. These abstract faces look like they’d have definitely come with interesting personalities, should they come to life.

“I am interested in the vulnerability of humans and other beings, and in the humor and pathos that arise from this vulnerability. I see humor and pathos not as opposites, but as complimentary modes of exploring this theme. I aspire to make pieces that are both expressive and surprising.”

– Gwen Murphy

Want to read more of my views on artworks that hold my attention ? Visit the archive for Artwork in Focus.

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