Raised by an art teacher and an international handbag fittings agent for the luxury brands market, Debra herself was exposed to a unique outlook on art and fashion from a young age, which helped develop her intriguing style. As a student at London’s Central Saint Martins, she caught the eyes of the tutors with her handbag casting.  The handbag rapidly became her canvas and the medium to express her unique style and aesthetics of intimacy.

Her ideas explore consumption and the complex relationship with material objects both as consumable fashion goods but also as harbingers of memories, love, and aspirations.

With their kitschy elements, her works are a clear nod to pop art, brought into the digital age; now more than ever, how we curate and display the emblems that we love, and they, in turn, curate and display us.

ARTBAG reflects our experience in the world

What's in your ARTBAG?

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Debra Franses was born in London in 1967. She studied Politics and Economics at the University of Manchester and initially pursued a career in advertising, before enrolling at Central St Martins School of Art (2002-2005) and creating Artbag.

Debra describes Artbag as a window into her soul.

It was whilst she was at art school that the idea for Artbags first materialised. Debra took a beautiful handbag from a top couture house and adapted it into a silicone mould for casting. Whilst the first bag was sculpted in heavy white plaster, her next bag, ‘Catch’, was cast in resin and featured a goldfish inside a tank of water, mounted on a plinth. Her first pieces were highly autobiographical, as, through these, Debra visualised how she was feeling about various areas of her life.

She has since lived and worked in New York, Europe and London, where she is now based. She regularly collaborates with her contemporaries and, in 2020, she opened her own dedicated Gallery to represent herself alongside a few trusted galleries across the world.

Spanning luxury and familiarity, the elements held in each bag combine comfort, prestige and style. The medium of resin encapsulation gives the chosen items a visually intensified presence, with the anticipation of their consumption forever suspended in time, never to be realised.

ARTBAG on film