Jo Cope

"Leicester gives me my sense of place and a very authentic notion of identity"

What do you do?

I create shoe artworks with the objective of them being exhibited in galleries as a form of visual art. The shoes are used as a vessel to embed human life experiences, they are highly crafted and I work with vegetable tan leather predominantly and wood and other sculpting materials. My practice is a mix of craft skills, performance art and fashion. My objective is to redefine how and why fashion objects might exist. These shoes are not for walking to ASDA in, they are metaphorical objects to consume visually and mentally.

How did you get to where you are?

I graduated from Nottingham Trent University in 2006 as a mature student after redefining a new career path following a work related injury, shortly after I created my first large scale bag installation and pitched it to what was then ‘The City Gallery’ on Granby Street Leicester. I managed to get a solo installation and continued to seek the mentorship of Midlands based organisations such as Design Factory Sleaford.

I started to approach concept stores in London as well as applying for Arts Council funding, which was a great way to start initiating opportunities for new work and commissions. In 2015, I decided that I wanted to learn more traditional craft skills to aid the development of my practice. I went back to do a Masters in Fashion Artefacts at the London College of Fashion. Since then my work has toured and exhibited at prestigious galleries and museums around the world; including most recently at MAD Museum of Decorative Arts Paris and as part of a ‘100 years of the vote for women’ celebratory exhibition at Buckingham Palace.

Why do you love what you do?

Many reasons, mainly because it’s what I believe I can do best in the world at this time. I guess most artistic practices start off for quite self serving pleasure based reasons at first; to explore the imagination and use the hands to materialise the unseen. More recently my work has started to take a turn which is less self serving and more community focused, giving the work a wider purpose in society.

Why are you based in Leicester?

I’ve always described Leicester as ‘without pretension’, genuine, and down to earth. Leicester gives me my sense of place and a very authentic notion of identity. It’s also relatively easy to commute to London which I was doing regularly before the dreaded Covid-19. I also lecture in Fashion at De Montfort University to support creatives who come to my local city from around the globe.

What next?

Against all the odds of the pandemic the previously postponed London Craft Week project that I have collaborated with the Shelter Charity for is due to open in London from 30th September to 1st October 2020!

This is a unique project in which I invited 10 amazing shoe makers/artists to translate the stories of 10 individuals who had faced homelessness and been helped by Shelter. For further info about the show which will be at the Shelter Boutique in Coal Drops Yard, Kings Cross London. Check it out on!

Social media accounts to follow:

Facebook: /jocopeconceptualfashion

Twitter: @jocopefashion

Instagram: @jocopeconceptualfashion | @shoeshavenames

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