The Shoeist Monastery
In 2001 I was approached by senior members of the Inverness Shoeist Brotherhood, a religious organisation that had formed as a consequence of a spiritual revelation experienced by its founder whilst on vacation in Inverness in the Scottish Highlands. The brief was for a monastery building to house their rapidly expanding membership and to function as a central point for the propagation of their message.
A discarded shoe was the organisation’s most theologically significant relic, as well as the symbol they chose to represent their movement and their request that this should be recognised in the design of the building was respected.
This project has not yet been constructed.
A degree of controversy has surrounded the proposals with some commentators alleging that the organisation, their theology, founding myth and architectural brief are all entirely fictional, and rumours circulating that this was only ever a student project.
“If the precedent for the appropriation of icons from life – animals, letters and the like – exist in the work of 18th century Boulee or 20th century Ben Nicholson, Colin has gone further. The building can make references to its Scottishness (guess the reference to a hitherto famous Glasgow firm of the 1960s) and to the relationship of material to ritual. But the tongue pokes firmly in the cheek with the sustained story of the Shoeist cult. In the end, though, this is executed with great professionalism as well.”
– Sir Peter Cook RA, 2002