By Nayera Yasser
Behind a small table featuring a number of basic instruments, sits an artist who belongs to an ancient era. Ahmed Nagy spends his days turning his art into the most practical garment there is; he turns his art into shoes.
Yesterday the Townhouse art gallery gave this promising artist the opportunity to revive and glorify the craft of shoe making. Nagy comes from a family of shoe-makers, and for two consecutive generations his family excelled in one of the nation’s main micro-industries.
To Nagy, shoes are an art form worthy of attention. Along with Townhouse, he transformed the gallery into a simplified replica of his original workshop. Everyone was invited to witness the artist in action, and experience the journey of turning absolutely any fabric into shoes.
“I want to do something different. I use some fabrics, carpets, blankets, jackets, pens, and the like,” Nagy said. “My art is different, and not everyone would be able to understand it.”
Nagy first walked into Townhouse to apply for a graphic designer vacancy. Yet the gallery’s team was too impressed by his talent to let him work on anything else but shoes.
His work as a graphic designer and graffiti artist has taken him all the way to Germany. However, Nagy still perceives his job as his true identity.
“I draw my own designs on the fabrics used, then I add genuine leather for the lining and finally the shoes’ sole,” Nagy said.
He uses all kind of materials.
“Many of my customers just bring all sorts of stuff, and ask me to turn them into shoes,” Nagy added “The most eccentric material was old t-shirts that the client wanted to wear as shoes instead.”
As a true artist he never fears to experiment with any fabric available. One of his previous designs expanded to praying mats, which by definition is a new and bazar concept in a country like Egypt.
“I did not intend to condescend religion; I just admired its design. Nonetheless, I could not display nor sell it here in Egypt so instead it was marketed abroad,” said Nagy.
The shoe-making craft was previously considered a national industry that many used to master. However, due to the Chinese invasion, Egyptian products do not currently have a chance to compete due to its rare materials and relatively higher prices.
Naggy’s shoes cost around EGP 500, and take seven days of work. Regardless, he offers a high level of customisation and a very high quality of shoe. After the 25 January Revolution, and due to the shake political and economic conditions, he could find neither the needed support nor the expected profit.
Medhat, who is a fitness trainer and a friend of Nagy, is one of the many individuals who support this artistic journey. “I believe in his talent and I love his shoes. He has been my friend for over 12 years now, and funding him is the least I can do,” said Medhat.
After placing himself as an artist rather than a shoe-maker, Nagy plans on demonstrating the fun and elegant sides of the manufacturing process through several upcoming workshops in collaboration with Townhouse.