I've been everywhere

SONS Museum, Belgium, 2021

John Wynne




These shoes are made from mud collected on a marshland path frequented by Charles Dickens on the Thames Estuary in Kent. Under the mud is a pair of hiking boots worn by my partner, artist Denise Hawrysio, in some of my favourite places in the world, including lakes and mountains in Canada, Switzerland and the US, but also on many a muddy trail around the UK, where the idea originated. We patched and repaired the boots for many years, but it was finally time to retire them: they could still potentially be worn, but doing so would destroy the work, of course. The title, "I've been everywhere", is after a song by Hank Snow that has always resonated with me.

Commissioned by the Shoes Or No Shoes (SONS) Museum in Belgium, which is situated in a bespoke building featuring an extensive ethnographic collection on one level and artists' shoes on the other, with shoes from Gerhard Richter, Richard Long, Jordan Wolfson, Melanie Manchot, Joke Raes and many others.