French artist, Nathalie Lecroc paints the contents of handbags in her project Antholegy de Sac.
Where does your interest in handbags come from?
The handbags were not an obsession for me. Instead, my interest was to examine the contents of the handbags (metro, train, during the night party) and to paint them... to discover the secret life of ladies.
Have you always been so creative?
When I was a little girl I would prefer to draw in the classroom rather than to play in the playground. I have draw since.
When did you first start painting handbags and who was the first owner?
In June 1998, during a private view in my old collective studio. It was for a group exhibition with 11 artists of my generation. The first bag painted was my own #0000. I had to show the process to the public. The painting of my handbag #0000 was the first to open the project. The second person was a Japanese student. During this evening, I drew around 15 paintings, until midnight! It was tiring but very exiting. I was discovering that it was most interesting, it was the process of the encounter.
What are the most common items that people carry?
The items that are always in bags are purses, keys and now cell phones.
Does exploring a bags contents tell you a lot about the owner?
It's like portraits. You imagine the personalities behind the bags. They always reflect the unseen owner: some poetic, others strickly practical or in disorder.
Who are your clients?
My clients are 90% women, aged between 25-40. The full spectrum : fashion editors, stylists, students. They like fashion, accessories and live in cities. I would like to paint more bags belonging to men, but my conscience is clear that bags are more turned to the field of women. The project appeal to everybody, men, children and babies too, not just women.
How do different bags from around the globe compare?
Iit is easy to spot the American handbags in the Anthology. They are the ones that contain breath fresheners, often "Altoids" extra strong mints, which seem to be an essential accessory for American women. French women appear to be obsessed with lucky mascots, and the contents of European women's seem more natural and more fashion addicted.
What have been some of the strangest and funniest items you have discovered?
I discovered an odd little piece of sandwich, a model boat, a hulla dress, firecrackers and a banknotes in Paris. A real little fox terrier named Coco in a Coco Chanel quilted bag in Las Vegas; and an electric hair remover.
How many bags do you expect to paint?
I will stop when I reach 1001.
What's in your handbag?
A this moment :
- a small vintage Japanese bag with handcream, homeopathic drops, Italian candies, freedent tabs, kleenex, tampax.
- Chinese silk case with my false black diamond ring, ChapStick from the USA, Japanese 50's fan and perfume.
- purse "Cath Kidston" from London
- 4 pens and pencils
- embroidery scissors, tape measure
- red wallet & agenda
Tell us a bit about the book you're putting together?
I plan to publish the 1001 paintings in a book. The book will explain the human adventure of all my meetings with a sociological or a historian text. A text of me relating the evolution of my project and some anecdotes.
Are there any other accessories that you love as much as bags?
Shoes and fans.
Any other projects in the works?
I exhibit regulary with other artistic propositions : installations, creations of small "objet d'art", performances. My artwork often focuses around "arts decoratifs", femininity and interaction.
What's next for you?
My next painting is # 720 this afternoon. A woman who lives in London. She has choosen the title of her handbag painting, "My Chanel Classic Jumbo - Timeless and Elegant".
If you would like to have your handbag painted by Miss Lecroc, you can contact her by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. (Photography by Germinal Roau and illustrations by Nathalie Lecroc).