Sunday, February 05, 2012

Handbags - What Do Women Want?

I was invited to attend a private viewing of “Handbags – What Do Women Want?” on Friday 27th January 2012, at The Women’s Organisation on St James Street, Liverpool

“Handbags- What Do Women Want”  is an exhibition of work by Eileen Walsh, an MA student at Liverpool Hope University’s Fine and Applied Arts Department.

Eileen is a friend from the Labour Party and she interviewed me, along with many other local women she knows, about my own relationship with handbags so I was particularly interested to see how the exhibition would come together.

There was a small collection of bags that she had bought and brought together, along with an array of the most fascinating bags that she had created herself, using symbolic materials that are related to gender and women's identities.
So there was a bag for instance made from kitchen clothes and a sink plug with chain

And one made from baby wool and marigold rubber gloves, with a teat fastener and a nappy pin handle
Some of the bags were quite menacing,  with hooks or made from sharp scratchy brillo pads, others expressed the joy of women working together in Trade Unions, and one celebrated the survivors of breast cancer.

A most thoughtful exhibition, I hope she gets a really great mark for it, lecturers please note!

And in a delightful little touch, every visitor to the exhibition was given a cup cake, decorated with a handbag motif, baked at campcupcake, a new shop on Smithdown Road
  “Handbags – What Do Women Want” is gender-based and concerned with the way the social and cultural environment constructs women’s identities and how women react to the structures and conditioning imposed on them. The exhibition aims to uncover personal narratives in women’s lives using the metaphor of the handbag, thus stimulating critical thinking that moves from the personal to the universal and questions the hegemonies that determine women’s lives. These ideas are explored through the mixed media of photography, sound stories, textiles and found objects.

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