Finding Beauty in the chaos of an uncertain world - Life UK Publications

ARTBAG is the creation of British artist Debra Franses, born in London, went to school in Rickmansworth, started her family in New,York, and now resides in Buckinghamshire.

During lockdown Debra opened a boutique gallery in Amersham as all her shows were cancelled. This she said was therapeutic and helped her to

remember the exciting world that she had worked for the last 15 years to be a part of. You might walk past the small windows and bright pink door assuming it to be a charming cottage, however once inside your entering into a world of wild imagination. Think Willy Wonker’s chocolate factory, only voyeuristic transparent resin handbag sculptures.

We asked Debra, why the fascination for the handbag? Her father was in the industry for over 40 years and she was given handbag gifts from an early age when he travelled which was often. The handbag represents a psychological canvas for her mind saying “we are what we carry.” They also made excellent dolls houses when she was little and enabled her to imagine womanhood and play with fashion.

Debra studied at London’s Central Saint Martins, graduating in 2005 and launched a boutique design company, Couturious, after winning student prizes for her innovative designs. These quirky designs were turned into wallpaper and fabrics which showcased in Harvey Nichols and Selfridges.

It was whilst studying Art in the early 2000s that the idea for ARTBAG first took shape. She took a couture handbag and adapted it into a silicone mould, and then discovered her preferred media, “resin”.

Good ideas feed themselves. Do what you love and do it well, believe in yourself and follow your dreams and your audience will find you

Her first casting was a handbag containing a goldfish. She called the artwork “catch”. It was a playful joke to get the attention of Damien Hirst who was floating sharks in tanks of formaldehyde at the Saatchi gallery. She, placed “catch” in a fish tank full of water on a gallery plinth and the Artbag concept was created.

Today, amongst other things, she casts luxury consumer goods alongside familiar utilitarian objects inside replica Hermes Birkin Bags, LV Briefcases and her own iconic handbag design. Today Debra’s art is admired in galleries and museums, as well as being commissioned by brands such as Coca Cola, Gucci, NY Fashion Week, Fairmont Hotels, and is currently exhibiting at the IFC in Shanghai. The billionaire, philanthropist and art collector, Steve Cohen, bought two pieces from Gallery Biba in Palm Beach further cementing her reputation as an investible artist.

The large sculptures are expensive and make a statement in themselves about wealth – However, she has launched some smaller ARTBAGS perfect for the dressing table or powder room. She also creates elegant illuminated photographic prints which you can buy from her gallery directly – or on her website www.artbagstudio.com. These more affordable editions cannot be found in the luxury galleries who represent her. You can also take a workshop with her in the studio, learning how to cast and pour resin or create an Artbag memories wall piece of your own. Workshops cost upwards of £150 and make a great gift for the novice or experienced artist.

Debra tries to explain ARTBAG in words but struggles and says – that’s why I make art and don’t write! They just look gorgeous, and you connect to them instantly as they evoke memories from movies, pop culture, media and a sense of nostalgic familiarity - a calm order in the messy, disorganized beauty of human life.

She finds meaning in objects which hold memories; after lockdown took away so many of our liberties. These frozen snapshots are like our lives - “frozen in a moment of time”.

Everything was cancelled; fashion weeks in New York, gallery shows, the Dubai diamond handbag
...it just all stopped” Thanks to the internet many collectors found her work online and started commissioning new pieces, so life continued calmly in her studio without all the travel and running around.

She is just working on a new collection to launch before Christmas for British gallery group Clarendon Fine Art who have several galleries in Marlow, Beaconsfield and Windsor.

Debra believes that “Good ideas feed themselves. Do what you love and do it well, believe in yourself and follow your dreams and your audience will find you”. In 2010 after recovering from breast cancer, Debra set up Mini Monets, a children’s art school currently based in Amersham where she has inspired hundreds of students to express themselves through art. www.minimonetsuk.com


Palace -Class Artbags Exhibition

Shanghai ifc shopping mall丨Grand Art Package Exhibition Glory National Day

In order to promote fashion art creation, Shanghai ifc mall held a special "Hall Art Package Exhibition" on this National Day. We sincerely invite internationally renowned British artist Debra Franses to join hands in creating a fashionable bag art exhibition. Incorporating the dynamic airport luggage conveyor belt into the creativity, it means that all the art exhibits will be airborne in Shanghai continuously, presenting the unparalleled and elegant visual feast of Shencheng this autumn. Let every customer who visits the mall experience the artistic creativity of the palace-class bags, enjoy the grand ceremony of fashion and celebrate the beautiful season together during the National Day Golden Week.

Feng Xiuyan, Executive Director of Sun Hung Kai Real Estate Agency, said: “Shanghai ifc mall has been continuously holding trend-leading art activities to create a diversified fashion shopping experience for customers pursuing high-end quality of life. In order to welcome the National Day Golden Week, the mall specializes With the theme of bag art, the "Palace Art Bag Exhibition" was held. British fashion creative artist Debra Franses was invited to exhibit for the first time in China, injecting ladies’ most beloved bags with unique creativity and shaping Ingenious works of art. The shopping mall has specially created two large and dazzling artistic bags, and based on the installation of the airport baggage claim area, it presents a bright fashion art corridor on the first floor of the Avenue of Stars. Customers can be on the static luggage conveyor belt , Tasting unique creative works with the rhythm of "dazzling" life, as if all artworks have just arrived in Shanghai, you can take the lead in appreciating them. While enjoying the fashionable products, you can also participate in the first interactive art bag game. The perfect combination of diverse cultures, experience high-quality art palaces and luxurious and elegant fashion lifestyles."

Huang Zhisheng, general manager of the shopping mall leasing department of Sun Hung Kai Real Estate Agency Co., Ltd. continued: “During the National Day Golden Week, customers on the Avenue of Stars in the shopping mall can not only appreciate the top bag art works and experience the most creative fashion installation space, but also Watch the wonderful carnival show from the art troupe, and enjoy the unparalleled joy of art. In addition, in order to respond to the call to drive consumption, customers can also enjoy exclusive and exclusive shopping rewards during the Golden Week, inviting everyone in the joyful shopping fun Customers spend the National Day together."

 

Creative Fashion Dynamic Art Gallery

The mall invited the well-known British artist Debra Franses to jointly create a large-scale fashion art installation [Creative Fashion Dynamic Art Gallery] with a length of more than 20 meters and a height of 3 meters on the Avenue of Stars on the first floor. Gorgeous fashion art bag installations, dynamic airport luggage conveyor belts, colorful creative bags and colorful lights create an eye-catching fashion art gallery. Large-scale bag installations using noble and elegant electroplating colors and colorful neon Melaleuca light effects stand on both sides of the promenade, echoing the art bags of the airport luggage conveyor belt, as if all artworks are the latest arrival In Shanghai, Shanghai customers can enjoy the world's top bag trends for the first time, and explore the ensuing palace-level artworks in a "many" way of life.

 

Invest in  Art Bags

In addition to the creation of Debra Franses, she also collaborated with other world-class fashion designers in cross-border collaborations, including: the British world's top fashionista (Gary James McQueen), internationally renowned cross-border artist (Whathisname) ), internationally renowned dessert pop artist (Betsy Enzensberger), etc. exhibited dozens of world-renowned avant-garde bag art works. The unique creative design style, eye-catching fashion items are placed in the bag, and there are more artistic elements such as artist exclusive dolls, lifelike insect specimens, colorful candies, etc., which vividly conveys the palace-level design aesthetics. The combination of superb craftsmanship and unconstrained creativity, brilliant colors, novel elements, and admirable, will constantly move your eyeballs, which is extremely visually stunning and enjoyable, and enjoy the artistic feast brought by fashion trends.

GO "Buy" bags together


Palace Art Bag Exhibition at ifc Shanghai Time Out

Starting over October holiday, Shanghai ifc Shopping Mall is presenting a bag art exhibition by internationally renowned British artist Debra Franses. Displayed like a luggage carousel at the airport, the exhibit is a flash of creativity for shoppers in the mall.
Click here to see on Time Out Shanghai website

Debra Franses's Art of Melange - The Face India

Debra 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. She has lived and worked variously in New York, Europe and London, where she is now based. Her Artbags have been exhibited in galleries around the globe and she also undertakes private commissions. In 2015, she created pieces for the Coca Cola Museum to celebrate 100 years of the iconic coke bottle design, and her works were shown alongside pieces by some of Debra's own personal art heroes. In 2019, her work was the centrepiece of the incredible Handbag Exhibition in Basel: 'Icons and Investments'.  She regularly collaborates with her contemporaries and, in 2020, she opened her own dedicated Gallery to represent herself alongside a few trusted galleries in Amsterdam, France, Palm Beach and London.

In autumn 2020 (postponed from March 2020), she is scheduled to launch her work in Dubai at the World Fashion Awards, with a unique display of the world's most expensive Artbag, covered in divine diamonds to the value of £13.5 million. Although it may seem excessive now, in light of the impact of COVID-19, the piece stands as a reflection upon the dynamics of the consumerist world, of conspicuous wealth and ambition for something so special, it is only a dream, an aspiration.

What are Artbags?

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 plinthHer first pieces were highly autobiographical, as through these, Debra visualised how she was feeling about various areas of her life.

Although Debra has shifted away from this self-reflexive focus over time, she still feels that every bag is a distillation of the people she has met, the places she has been and what she has seen in the world. As Debra explains,

'...all interactions leave a trace in me which inspire my work'.

Every Artbag has an intriguing title, ranging from a single, punchy word through to smart, thought-provoking statements, which brand and define the Artbag.

Debra explores ideas centred on consumption and mass production, recognising the complex relationship that we have with material objects as consumable goods. With their kitschy elements, her works are a clear nod to pop art, brought into the digital age; now more than ever, we curate and display the emblems that we love, and they, in turn, curate and display us.

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.

The contents of the Artbag is so personal and she has created over 200 over the last 10 years. You may link here to a specially designed tool to create your own either by uploading your own contents or you can just 'play-around' with the many existing items provided design your own!

How are Artbags made?

The creation of an Artbag has been likened to mummification in a slick and chic resin coffin! Objects are carefully selected to ensure that they won't break or melt in the casting process; occasionally, delicate items may need their own special mould. The silicone mould of the handbag comprises two parts and an initial layer of objects is laid out in each half.

Liquid resin is poured in, in stages, with 48 hours left in between for each level to cure and with further objects added to build up the layers. Then, to remove any last traces of air, the completed Artbag is put into a pressure chamber; this is the most delicate stage of the process, as it is important to prevent any bubbles from being created in the resin. After the final cure, the Artbag stays in the mould for several days, before being sanded down, polished to a high sheen and lacquered.

"I have been a collector for most of my life and I love pretty things and objects that hold special memories for me. My love of Art and design and travel has inspired and coloured my world in many exciting ways. I've restored and decorated 6 homes, designed my own fabrics and wallpapers under the brand name Couturious which all fed my passion. My life is an adventure. With so many moves and travels sifting through things was a natural task for me. When I first started my Artbags they were full of my excited thoughts and each bag through a connection of objects created a feeling and an experience of a memory".

Melange-Art which is French meaning collection is a blend or mixture of things both rare and beautiful bits and pieces of art and life history.


THE HANDBAG - Interview stayinart

THE HANDBAG

Interview with Debra Franses Bean

Handbags as an art object - at first we were surprised, then skeptical and the next moment we were madly curious about who and what was behind them. A personal conversation with artist Debra Franses Bean was an absolute necessity in order to understand her artistic concept. She counts herself to the artist group 'Beautalist', who are primarily concerned with confronting the viewer with beauty and this can also be quite painful when a barbed wire bag made of 22 carat gold comes into play.

Portrait of Debra Franses Bean, © Sandro Hymes

My Artbags allow me to explore the many facets of my own life experience and to push the boundaries of visual language. About travel, longing, loss, illness, fear, beauty, consumption, wealth, nostalgia. This is my life project. I've always been fascinated by psychology, philosophy, and anthropology.

W.e would like to know more about your background. Do you have classic training in fine arts or are you self-taught?

Both are the case. I was educated at a few prestigious London art institutions, City and Guilds and Central Saint Martins. I was concerned with the philosophy of art, especially with concepts such as the relational aesthetics of Nicolas Bouriard, Camera Lucida, Roland Barthes and Gilles Deleuze, a French philosopher, and Félix Guattari, a French psychoanalyst and political activist. The art school enabled me to test my ideas and challenge my aesthetic senses. My first degree was in economics and politics, which opened my eyes to the challenges in general. At the art school I wrote a thesis entitled "The Aesthetics of Intimacy", that still inspires me. The fierce reviews, the diversity of nationalities, and the languages spoken helped me develop my own visual coding. I am fascinated by creating a non-verbal, universal form of visual communication that can transcend cultures and economies. The training gave me an understanding of the world that helped me to formulate my ideas and priorities, to understand consumption and the political turbulence against the background of the rave and club culture in IBIZA in my very own way. All of this, along with a year of work in advertising, helped me find my way of communicating. the diversity of nationalities and the languages spoken helped me develop my own visual coding. I am fascinated by creating a non-verbal, universal form of visual communication that can transcend cultures and economies. The training gave me an understanding of the world that helped me to formulate my ideas and priorities, to understand consumption and the political turbulence against the background of the rave and club culture in IBIZA in my very own way. All of this, along with a year of work in advertising, helped me find my way of communicating. the diversity of nationalities and the languages spoken helped me develop my own visual coding. I am fascinated by creating a non-verbal, universal form of visual communication that can transcend cultures and economies. The training gave me an understanding of the world that helped me to formulate my ideas and priorities, to understand consumption and the political turbulence against the background of the rave and club culture in IBIZA in my very own way. All of this, along with a year of work in advertising, helped me find my way of communicating. I am fascinated by creating a non-verbal, universal form of visual communication that can transcend cultures and economies. The training gave me an understanding of the world that helped me to formulate my ideas and priorities, to understand consumption and the political turbulence against the background of the rave and club culture in IBIZA in my very own way. All of this, along with a year of work in advertising, helped me find my way of communicating. I am fascinated by creating a non-verbal, universal form of visual communication that can transcend cultures and economies. The training gave me an understanding of the world that helped me to formulate my ideas and priorities, to understand consumption and the political turbulence against the background of the rave and club culture in IBIZA in my very own way. All of this, along with a year of work in advertising, helped me find my way of communicating. To understand the consumption and the political turbulence against the background of the rave and club culture in IBIZA in my very own way. All of this, along with a year of work in advertising, helped me find my way of communicating. To understand the consumption and the political turbulence against the background of the rave and club culture in IBIZA in my very own way. All of this, along with a year of work in advertising, helped me find my way of communicating.

Und how did the handbag come into play?

The handbag as an item is both deeply personal, private and intimate. The content tells a story about where you've been, where you're going and what needs someone has. Whether aesthetic, practical, nostalgic or exaggerated. Often it can be glasses, money, lipstick, a key, a fragrance - there are connections between the objects that tell a story or suggest an identity. At the art school we were asked to bring a significant object to be cast and I selected one of my old, impractical little designer handbags, much to the surprise of my tutor and peer group.

D.a recent work of art is a bag made of barbed wire that contains a beautiful white dissection bird. Can you tell us a little bit about the inspiration behind this piece and what it embodies?

This work is inspired by the very first bag I created that was not molded in resin. It was a plaster cast with thumbtacks covering the handle. The weight of picking up the bag caused great pain in the palm of the hand. I called the work “have and hold”. He takes up the subject of pain and adds joy to it. A 22-karat gold barbed wire pouch contains a delicate white bird. Protected and captured, unable to fly, held, confined and yet gilded. It is the "catch 22".

D.A works are therefore conceptual, modern and abstract and still evoke an aura of the classic, especially through the adoption of the feminine. What is so important about the handbag, its connection with the feminine and its role as a 'container' for you as its creator?

A limited space, like a canvas, only three-dimensional. My father was in the handbag industry, and my sister and I got beautiful handbags and longed
to be sophisticated women. We took our mother's makeup and experimented with the disguise. The handbag has always been my favorite accessory.

D.A work of art has developed over time, can you tell us a little about this journey and also how you imagine your future work?

I grow and change and learn, so do my art. I don't have a crystal ball, maybe in 5 years I won't be here at all.

W.What role do you think art plays in society?

Art is a place of wonder and challenge. It helps us to focus on things that are important for artists and also for society. Without art the world would be too practical!

D.u are a member of the 'Beautalist' art movement. Can you tell us something about "Beautalism"?

When the philosopher Immanuel Kant thinks about aesthetics, he combines beauty with human imagination, nature and the sublime. Kant explains that the sublime is a sensation that is only accessible in the spirit and is evoked by encountering things that we find overwhelmingly beautiful and powerful. It can also be associated with feelings of awe, and Kant argues that we experience the sublime by looking at beauty in nature and in art. The works of art by the “beautalists” confront the viewer with beauty. But beauty has many forms and many faces. It's classic, complicated, strange, and shocking. It is abstract, gentle and aggressive. Some of the “beautalist” artists produce beauty in its pure and sublime form, while others seek to expose the dangerous or even ugly side of beauty. However, through their works of art, they will recognize the power of beauty. It can be sexual beauty, stupid beauty, or capitalism's despicable but seductive use of beauty. Beauty is the unattainable ideal, a myth we keep chasing after, and yet it is undoubtedly always exciting to look at. The art movement of the “beautalists” is about the visual appeal of beauty as well as its potency. To put it bluntly (or brutally), the "beautalists" are brutal about beauty.

Und what does the concept of beauty mean for you personally?

Beauty is the intimate journey that I head for as an imaginary destination.

W.ow would you describe your artwork's relationship to fashion?

Fashion creates identity, belonging, individuality and protection. We both strive for beauty and originality. Good art, like good fashion, is timeless.

A.Would you describe fashion as art?

I always like to stick to Alexander McQueen's quote: "Fashion should be a form of escapism, not a form of captivity." Art explains and reveals the depth behind the visual carnival of fashion.

W.hat have been your greatest successes so far?

To create some iconic Americana museum pieces for the Coca-Cola collection to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the classic Coca-Cola bottle shape. My work was shown together with my art heroes Andy Warhol and Ai Wei Wei at the 2015 World Exhibition in Milan. My Artbags allow me to explore the many facets of my own life experience and to push the boundaries of visual language. About travel, longing, loss, illness, fear, beauty, consumption, wealth, nostalgia. This is my life project. I've always been fascinated by psychology, philosophy, and anthropology.