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LCF x LCW: Laura Thomas uses footwear in performance to represent mental wellbeing

Footwear made of lead
  • Written byJ Tilley
  • Published date28 May 2022
Footwear made of lead
Footwear by Laura Thomas - MA Footwear Graduate 2018. Photography by Nicolò De March. Modelled and performed by Harriet Leitch.
"To me 'craft' is therapy. Peace of mind."

— Laura Thomas - MA Footwear alumna

London College of Fashion, UAL is hosting LCF x LCW, an exhibition of footwear, accessories, jewellery, tailoring and fashion artefacts, in Fashion Space Gallery as part of London Craft Week’s 2022 programme of events. We're delving deeper into the craft of each exhibiting course involved in LCF x LCW, which will take place at Fashion Space Gallery between 9 May - 8 June 2022.

We're speaking with MA Footwear alumna, Laura Thomas, about her live performance as part of London Craft Week, showcasing her work which combines handcrafted and 3D digital design to depict her own mental wellbeing. Her footwear was modelled and performed by Noemi Gunea.

Footwear performance with shoes made of lead
Footwear by Laura Thomas - MA Footwear Graduate 2018. Modelled and performed by Noemi Gunea
Tell us your story – who are you and what do you do?

I'm Laura. I graduated from the MA Footwear course back in 2018. I'm now working as the Junior Footwear Designer at Hunter and continue to work on my own practice alongside. Working across disciplines, my work primarily revolves around storytelling and creating narratives. The work you see here, made entirely from graphite, are a combination of handcrafted and 3D digital design.

Tell us more about your project and live performance at LCF x LCW – what does the footwear represent?

Inspired by my own experience, the live performance is a depiction of overcoming and dealing with depression. Captured in multiple forms, from film and mark-making to the graphite footwear artefacts. Each piece represents different stages of depression: denial, isolation, anger, acceptance and hope. With each piece, the performer draws their own journey through each stage to show the narrative of their emotional journey to recovery. The collection seeks to provide an insight into the constant battle of depression and the struggle many face every day.

Which key craft and design concepts have translated from the MA Footwear course to your everyday work?

The majority of my work is based around mental health and for me, craft is an invaluable tool to maintain it.

Footwear made of lead
Footwear by Laura Thomas - MA Footwear Graduate 2018. Photography by Nicolò De March. Modelled and performed by Harriet Leitch.
What themes and ideas have you explored through your work, and what inspired these decisions?

As I've previously touched on, my experience around mental health is my biggest source of inspiration. Creating something personal that creates a narrative that not only helps others understand their own experience but helps me understand mine.

Who are your favourite designers and/or makers?

There are too many to name. It changes but the artist that always comes to mind for me is Louise Bourgeois. They're incredible, inspirational and insightful.

What has been the highlight of your experience in preparation for Craft Week?

Re-discovering my practice. The last couple of years have been hard and a lot of work got put on hold but being part of this exhibition has reignited my need for craft and making.

What does ‘craft’ mean to you?

Therapy. Peace of mind.