A LIZ Lochhead poem about shoes is the inspiration behind a new collection of paintings by an award-winning artist.

Glasgow-based Helen Wilson was so taken by Poem to My Sister she persuaded Lochhead to lend her some of her footwear as the subject for a painting.

The artist then decided to ask other writers if she could paint their shoes in a gesture of appreciation towards the world of literature – “a friendly wave from one art form to another”.

Unsure how they would respond, Wilson was delighted when some of Scotland’s most well-known writers loaned her their shoes.

The result is a fascinating portrayal of footwear worn by writers such as Christopher Brookmyre, Denise Mina, John Byrne, A L Kennedy, Janice Galloway and Alexander McCall Smith.

Some are used by the authors when they are writing or giving readings – although Louise Welsh confessed her high heels had never been worn as she was afraid she would fall off them.

Brookmyre, who writes as he walks, loaned a pair of his trainers, while A L Kennedy sent a treasured pair made by John Fluevog, a Canadian shoe maker, which she often wears at readings.

Poet John Glenday loaned a pair of Haflinger slippers which were actually his wife Erica’s but which he now wears as she said they hurt her feet.

“We’re blessed with the same sized feet and she insisted on swapping with my slippers almost a year ago because these started hurting her,” he said.

“So I spend most of my days walking the house in my wife’s shoes and she in mine. I think that’s quite appropriate. And it really does feel as if it keeps us close together.”

He said he was glad to be a part of the exhibition.

“It’s been fascinating to think of the metaphorical significance of footwear and walking – one’s walk of life etc. Erica points out to me that the German word for a glove is handschuh. I rather like that.”

Liz Lochhead’s are a pair of crimson velvet bovver boots with black satin laces which she found on a bargain shelf in a shop.

“The only pair!” said Lochhead. “And hey, they fitted me like a glove! What was not to like? Shoes are very personal to a girl … and when you can combine joy with comfort…”

The paintings can be seen as part of a new exhibition called Lasting Impressions at the Open Eye Gallery in Edinburgh from June 28 until July 22.

Wilson said she was delighted so many writers had joined in.

“To be honest I was surprised no one said ‘no’ as I thought it might seem a peculiar thing to ask people,” she said. “I thought they might be a bit suspicious but they weren’t. Nobody refused which is amazing.”

She said the poem, which describes a wee girl in high heels she can’t walk in, had been at the back of her mind for a long time.

“There is just something about shoes that I like,” said Wilson. “They seem to absorb wearers’ personalities so painting them is very much like portraiture.”

Born in Paisley in 1954, Wilson trained at Glasgow School of Art, graduating in 1976. Her paintings of ballerinas, musicians, performers and behind the scenes views from her residencies with the Royal Ballet and Scottish Opera have won her critical acclaim.

Now can you pair the writer with their shoes in the picture gallery above?