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When Chimere Cisse from Art Korero invited me to the opening of an exhibition of British artist Debra Franses titled ARTBAG I thought I would attend a presentation of beautiful handbags designed by an artist, but I was in for a very pleasant surprise.

By Carlos Mundy

ARTBAG is the passionate creation of a 21st century graduate of London’s art and fashion Central Saint Martin’s College. In 2003, Debra adapted an expensive designer handbag (Hermes’ Birkin and Louis Vuitton’s Port Documents) and created her first casts. The design lives on to this day and can be found in major art collections around the world.

Left to right: Athanasios Belitsas, Debra Franses and Carlos Mundy in Dubai.

When confronted by an ARTBAG you are seeing a moment in time where seemingly random objects float motionless encases in a transparent resin shaped like a handbag. The handbag has become Debra Franses canvas and the medium to express her unique style and aesthetics of intimacy. Debra acknowledges that every bag is a distillation of who she has met, where 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 a title, and these are equally as intriguing: ranging from a single, punchy word through to smart, thought-provoking statements which brand and define the ARTBAG.

Spanning luxury and familiarity, the elements held in each bag combine comfort, prestige, and style. 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 artist also works by commission. The collector can choose the objects that have a great meaning to them and work with Debra to include in their chosen bag. This is indeed unique and the result is a very personal work of art.

The Godfather

The exhibition at the magnificent space of That Concept Store at Emirates Mall opened on the 5th of October to great public and critical acclaim and will be open during the whole month of October.

Since 2004, Debra Franses works of art have been exhibited around the world and her pieces are in some of the most important collections. I invite all our readers that if they are in Dubai during the month of October, this is a must-see exhibition.

Please visit the artist’s website

The Golden Handshake

The Face With Grazie

The Tribute to David Bowie,

(with previously unseen images from Denis Oregan).

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