Appealing to our inherent voyeuristic tendencies to make a statement that is both sentimental and unconventional, Debra Franses Bean’s project titled ARTbag achieves just that – it elevates the status of a woman’s handbag, a utility of everyday life, into a piece of art, by allowing it to become the representation of a certain idea or memory.

 

Essentially, ARTbags are sculptures that challenge the way handbags are traditionally portrayed as a secretive and intimate female space. Instead, the handbags she creates are made of crystal clear resin, inside which different objects are encased. While maintaining the constant standard form of a generic woman’s handbag, different ideas are explored, some philosophical or political in nature, all thought provoking. For instance, in a piece entitled ‘Apothecary’, test tubes and syringes containing colored liquids are suspended within the handbag. In another titled ‘Duet’, two butterflies, caught mid-flight, are seemingly moving in an entwining motion. Each of these pieces aim to provide a glimpse of the inexplicable and intriguing complexities and personalities that even the most nondescript of handbags, and by extension people, possess.

 

Artist Debra Franses Bean has been working on ARTbags since 2002 while still a student at Central Saint Martins in London, by casting objects in the sculpture studio. Her father was in the handbag industry and provided a foundation for her later fascination with women and the secrets that their handbags ostensibly harbored. After her graduation, she set up her own design studio ‘Courturious’ and her works has since been shown in many parts of the world.

 

Come November, ARTbag would also be exhibited in Singapore as part of the Affordable Art Fair. Don’t miss this chance to examine Franses Bean’s works up close and let it redefine the way you regard handbags.

-Yishu