Wailing wall of lonely socks


Everyone has had the experience of finding orphaned socks in the wash. Intrigued by this mystery, artist Stef Kreymborg appealed to the public and collected thousands of lonely socks. Initially she planned to match up these loners into new pairs but once she got started the Wailing Wall of Lonely Socks began to emerge. It’s a monumental work: 7 metres long and 2.5 metres high. The combined history of all the individual footsteps taken in these socks creates a footprint of our society, in countless blocks and nuances of colour. The work speaks of loneliness, cooperation and the hope of connection.


The Wailing Wall of Lonely Socks is now enjoying an extensive tour. Following a visit to Museum Jan van der Togt in Amstelveen, VU University in Amsterdam and Galerie Weesperzijde in Amsterdam, the artwork was exhibited for a year at the Dutch Parliament in The Hague and the public library in Amsterdam [OBA].
In 2014 the work was on show at the Mesdag Collection in The Hague and at the International Textile Biennale in Nantong, China. The work will continue to travel until a permanent home can be found in a public space, so that large numbers of people can enjoy it.


Inspiration is a funny thing. A new work by Dutch artist Stef Kreymborg started in the laundry basket. ‘It was born of pure frustration at all those single socks that emerged from the washing machine and lay around for years without their partner turning up.’ Intrigued by this mystery, she made an appeal on local radio and television, which resulted in 4,000 single (clean) socks being donated to help her realise her creative ambitions. Initially it was her intention to make new pairs from these loners, but while working on this project, a monumental work of art started to emerge. The result is an impressive art installation, spanning nearly 18 square metres, entitled the Wailing Wall of Lonely Socks. The history of all the individual steps taken in these socks has been combined, forming a footprint of our society in countless shades and colour blocks. ’It sounds a bit sad but I ended up becoming quite attached to them all,’ the artist admits. ‘I found myself daydreaming about where all these socks had been and with whom. It’s an intimate thing, a sock.’ Her dream of reuniting a few sibling socks along the way failed to materialise: ‘4,000 socks and there wasn’t one that completely matched another!’ But in the Wailing Wall of Lonely Socks, these loners have found a new life and become carriers of communication, hope and cooperation.


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Wailing Wall of lonely socks.
Klagewand der einsamen Socken.
Muro de los lamentos de los calcetines solitarios.
Mur des Lamentations de chaussettes solitaires.
Muro del Pianto di calzini solitaria.
Стена Плача для одиноких носков.