A tender story on the effects of industrialization and on nostalgia for old practices

John Danalis, Schumann the Shoeman. Illustrated by Stella Danalis

First published 2009 by University of Queensland Press


Schumann the Shoeman speaks to readers of all ages. Meaningful, it analyzes the effects of industrial development on small business and also its impact on creativity.

Schumann the Shoeman, shoes

Schumann the Shoeman was a very creative cobbler adored by his customers. His shoes were works of art and no two pairs were ever the same. His shoes decorated the town footpaths elegantly and uniquely. But when, one grey winter morning, a shoe factory opened in the town, Schumann’s work was no longer needed and despite his pride he had to close his shop.

The factory belched out sensible salmon shoes at an astonishing rate – twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. They were so cheap that people bought pairs by the dozen. As their wardrobes and footlockers steadily bulged, Schumann’s pantry quickly emptied.

He tried to work at the factory but his creative spirit could not accept the uncreative style of the new shoes so he decided to leave the town forever and moved in a forgotten forest. His world changed again when he began to make shoes for the animals living there. His reputation spread rapidly and his happiness grew. His work was demanding but blissful.

His final challenge was to make fifty pairs of shoes for a centipede but soon after he finished the tiny beautiful pieces of art he fell off the ladder and died. The centipede could never wear the shoes but a bird adored them, took a pair of booties and wore them across deserts, oceans and forests until ironically dropped one at the old gloomy factory.

Defining and preserving art is sometimes a struggle. In a society accused of consumerism, people easily dispose of their belongings. Schumann the Shoeman, whose name symbolically insists on a continuity in art, warns the readers in a lyrical way about the risks of waste. In a throwaway culture even the human lives are disposable.

Stella Danalis’ illustrations are veritable works of art.


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