About the Artist

Debra describes Artbag as a window into her soul. It was whilst studying at Central St Martins School of Art (2002-2005) that the idea for these first materialised. Debra took a beautiful handbag from a top couture house and adapted it into a silicone mould for casting.

The first bag was in heavy white plaster, but, 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. 

Although this focus has shifted over time, 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.

Debra explores ideas centred on consumption and mass production and recognises the complex relationship we have with material objects as consumable goods. With their kitschy elements these 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 curate and display us. 

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 creation of an artbag has been likened to mummification in a slick and chic resin coffin. Objects are selected to ensure that they won’t break or melt in the casting process; occasionally, delicate items need their own 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 layers, with a day in between for each layer to cure and with further objects added to build up the layers. To remove any last traces of air, the completed handbag is then put into a pressure chamber. This is the most delicate stage of the process as bubbles can be created in the resin. Once cured, the handbag stays in the mould for several days and when removed it is sanded down, polished to a high sheen and lacquered.

Debra Franses Bean was born in London in 1967. She studied Politics and Economics and initially pursued a career in advertising. She has lived and worked in New York 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 works 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.

Born 1967, London
Lived and worked in New York and now based just outside London

EDUCATION

2002 – 2005 BA FA Central Saint Martins, London
2001 – 2002 Foundation Diploma in Art and Design, City & Guilds, London

SELECTED GROUP EXHIBITIONS AND ART FAIRS

2017 - 2019

  • Hong Kong AAF, TAG Fine Arts
  • Scope Miami S’ist Gallery, Venice, Italy
  • Maison ET Object Paris, Cobra Fine Art
  • New York AAF, Tag Fine Art/ Mark Jason Gallery
  • New Generation artists, Amsterdam & Rotterdam, Cobra Fine Art
  • Summer exhibition, Gallery Saint Martin St Tropez, France
  • Winter exhibition, Gallery Bartoux, Courcheval, Megeve, Singapore
  • New Artworks, Galleries Artelie, Paris
  • Gallery artists, Buemee Contemporary, Tunbridge Wells, Kent, UK

2014 – 2016

  • Coca Cola 100 years of the Bottle, Global tour and WORLD EXPO Milan
  • Hong Kong AAF, TAG Fine Arts
  • London AAF, Mark Jason Gallery
  • New York AAF Mark Jason Gallery
  • Art Palm Beach, Gallery Biba
  • Hamburg AAF, Wanrooij
  • Winter exhibition, Gallery Bartoux, Courcheval, Megeve, Singapore
  • Summer Exhibition, Rarity Gallery, Mikonos Greece

2013

  • London art fair Islington Mark Jason Gallery
  • Hong Kong AAF Mark Jason Gallery
  • Scope Basel & Miami Wanrooij Gallery Arnhem
  • Ghent Art Fair Axel Pairon Antwerp
  • Amsterdam AAF Wanrooij Gallery Arnhem
  • Hamburg AAF Wanrooij Gallery Arnhem
  • “Upon Reflection” Quidley &Co, Boston
  • Battersea and Hampstead AAF Mark Jason Gallery
  • Fight for Sight Art auction
  • Scope Basel, Wanrooij Gallery
  • Bucks Open Studios, The Red House, Harefield
  • Quidley & Co Nantucket USA
  • Launch @ Biba Gallery Palm Beach

2012

  • Scope Miami, Wanrooij Gallery
  • Affordable Art Fair (London, Singapore, New York), Mark Jason Gallery
  • Affordable Art Fair (Hamburg, Amsterdam, Brussels), Wanrooij Gallery
  • Boston Art Fair, Quidley & Company
  • Gallery artists, Axel Pieron, Antwerp Belgium
  • Greenwich Art and Design, Stanford USA, Manart Gallery Paris
  • Urban Intersections, Quidley & Company Boston
  • Knokke, Axel Pairon , Antwerp, Belgium,
  • Gallery Opening Show, Manart, Paris
  • Realisme, Amsterdam, Wanrooij Gallery
  • London Art Fair, Mark Jason Gallery

2011

  • London Art Fair, Mark Jason Gallery
  • 20/21 Royal College of Art, Mark Jason Gallery
  • John Lennon Show, Legend Celebrity Art, London
  • Affordable Art Fair (London and New York), Mark Jason Gallery
  • Affordable Art Fair (Brussels, Amsterdam), Wanrooij Gallery
  • Art Chicago, Mark Jason Gallery
  • A-P and Beyond, London
  • London Design Week, Brompton Oratory, London
  • Art London, London
  • “Identity”, RED PENGUIN GALLERY, El Court Ingles Marbella, Spain
  • Miljonair Fair, Amsterdam

2009

  • ‘Group show portraits’, Galleria Fine art gallery, Guatemala
  • ‘The destruction and the glory’ New paintings, London
  • Gallery Launch Show, Artware Editions , Greenwich Village, NYC, USA

2006

  • June New Designers, Couturious, London
  • Degree show, Saint Martins, London

2004

  • The art of love, Arndean Gallery, Cork Street, London
  • The gift part 2, Elwyn Lynn Conference Centre, COFA, Sydney
  • Third Draw Down, Kudos Gallery, Sydney
  • Living London, London Collage of Fashion, London
  • Sculpture, Central Saint Martins, London
  • The Visitor, 23 Charlotte Road, Shoreditch, London
  • Visitors, Films, Hamburg, Germany

SELECTED SOLO SHOWS

2016 Gallery Show Northwood Etz Chaim Synagogue
2013 Manart Gallery, Paris
2010 Koukan gallery, London
2009 Launch show – Artware editions, New York
2005 Handbag and wallpaper installation, Selfridges Design room, London
2005 Wallpaper and sculpture installation, Harvey Nichols, London
2004 “A collection of Bags”, Glaxo Smithkline, Harlow, Essex

AWARDS

2005 Edward James Foundation bursary
2004 Digetex printing bursary
2003 Central Saint Martins printing & travel bursary for Venice