Handbag Installation

The idea behind the handbag installation

I am returning, with the idea of an installation, to the use of the object of the handbag as a metaphor – using it to reflect the process of dementia and its impact on the identity of a sufferer. By separating handbags into parts, and then presenting them hanging in a space, I hope to present the viewer with the sense of an absent presence. I hope through this to reflect the impact that loss of purpose and the removal of intended function can have on the way that we relate to a ‘thing’.

Dementia as an illness removes the overall binding sense of identity, leaving behind a trace of the person – still with some memories, abilities and experiences retained, but there is little cohesion and it is difficult to fully see the person they were before. The person is still very much present, but there is an element of emptiness that creates a barrier between how you relate to the individual. And although there will be elements of the individual that are still recognisable, these elements seem somewhat separate and the overall identity of the person is lost – this is what I am looking to mirror in my installation piece.


The work I have been doing with the handbag pieces has been mainly focused on 2D, and so I wanted to experiment with the hanging of these pieces within a space. Unfortunately, and I recognise this as a poor time management on my part, but I have been unable to experiment with the installation in a suitable space – and so had to turn my room into the installation space, this has enabled me to visualise the piece and decide whether it would be successful but I haven’t explored it as ‘finally’ as I would have liked to. Having said this, I am really happy with how it works as a piece. I grouped three bags together and hung them – I tried 2 of them on the same level and the other (red bag) I explored the possibility of layering the bag by distancing the pieces behind one another. I found however, that they looked better hanging next to one another as this highlighted the idea of separation a lot more. I am going to further explore the best ways to arrange these pieces but am happy with how the outcome looks – obviously it will be easier to judge once I am in a space without any surrounding distractions.


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