Photo: In the footsteps

10 November 2011

In the footsteps: shoes belonging to, among others, the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Coronation Street character Gail McIntyre, feature in an art installation at Ripon Cathedral this month, writes Paul Wilkinson. They form part of a pathway, symbolising pilgrimage, created from hundreds of pairs of donated footwear.

Dr Williams gave a pair of well-used black leather lace-ups, and the actress Helen Worth, who plays McIntyre in the ITV series, donated the ivory satin high-heels that she wore for her on-screen wedding to Martin Platt in 1991.

Children of worshippers at the cathedral wrote to figures such as the Prince of Wales, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, David Beckham, J. K. Rowling, celebrities on BBC TV’s Strictly Come Dancing, the Prime Minister, the Deputy Prime Minister, and Ed Miliband.

The Assistant Curate of the cathedral, the Revd Dr Nicholas Buxton, who organised the collection, received almost 600 pairs. Also among the donors were the Bishop of Ripon & Leeds, the Rt Revd John Packer, and the Bishop of Knaresborough, the Rt Revd James Bell.

“Prince Charles turned us down, but I’m not surprised — people might fear their shoes could end up on eBay,” Dr Buxton said. After­wards, all the shoes will go to charity or be recycled.

The installation was the idea of the Dean of Ripon, the Very Revd Keith Jukes. “The beginning of November is dominated by the two great festivals of All Saints’ and All Souls’,” he said. “On these two consecutive days, the Christian Church remembers all those who have faithfully, and sometimes fearlessly, walked the way of Christ before us.”

Having spent a week in the north aisle, the installation now goes on its own pilgrimage, as it is moved to different locations around the cathedral throughout Advent

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