Neolithic Axes is a series of reconstructed infant trainers mimicking prehistoric axes. This work stems from an interest in Neolithic ‘factory sites’ that the artist originally visited in Wales, where it’s believed that local Neolithic populations mass-produced commodities such as axes.
It’s widely accepted that the use for these products were not solely as functional axes, but also as status symbols, transported across hundreds of miles and exchanged for payment or as gifts. Examples include the Wroot Axehead; analysis has revealed that the Jadeite stone was sourced from the North Italian Alps around 4,300 BCE, and made its way as a finished axe to North Lincolnshire around 3,900 BCE.
Millennia later, status-bearing objects are still traded globally, trainers being one example of a mass-produced commodity that functions within our economy of symbols. The concept of the branded infant trainer is the ultimate status symbol, decorating the feet of a young toddler that can barely walk. In both cases, the infant shoe and Neolithic axe, the functional elements to the object are rendered secondary or useless; instead, they become a form of adornment.
With this in mind, the artist presents infant trainers as contemporary equivalents to the Neolithic Axe. Here, she explores their social significance and unconscious symbolism, reforming the present-day status symbols as tools of war, each brand a clan competing for your attention.
To begin with, the artist collects second-hand and used infant trainers and cleans them. In the studio, she deconstructs the shoes by cutting the fabric and removing the rubber sole, padding, insoles and laces. The artist will then start a slow process of reconstructing and redesigning the shoe shape, hand sewing the fabric around a wooden handle and fashioning the rubber sole to suggest the shape of a Neolithic axe blade.
Information submitted by the maker and edited by the Future Materials Bank.
Fabric, rubber, wood, shoelaces, thread