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UAL Research Online

The Handbag Project

Gregory, Joy (2001) The Handbag Project. [Art/Design Item]

Type of Research: Art/Design Item
Creators: Gregory, Joy

'The Handbag Project' is a collection of large salt printed photograms that record only a trace of the original object.

This practice-based research began as possible idea for future development during a residency at the Fordsburg Arts Studio Gallery in Johannesburg. The background included an extensive period of listening to oral history accounts of apartheid people made available through the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and the collecting of treasured possessions of wealthy and glamorous women who occupied (or their husbands occupied) positions of power. Gloves and handbags became the focus, as they are widely understood symbols of femininity. 'Gloves' and 'The Handbag Project' later became two distinct research projects, the latter pursued during a three year NESTA funded Fellowship.

The aim of 'The Handbag Project' was to find ways of representing these objects, which did not consist of making literal images of them. Developing a technical process adapted from William Henry Fox Talbot’s pioneering photographic processes, salt print photograms were made that retained a trace of the objects but implied something undisclosed, in this case the lost history of the inequalities of wealthy women and the rest of female society during the apartheid years. The images appeared x-ray like, showing everything but revealing little. 'The Handbag Project' was first exhibited in a solo show Traces at the Zelda Cheatle Gallery (3 June to 17 July 2001). It appeared in a second solo show (We Are the Camera) at the Houston Centre of Photography during the 2004 Fotofest Biennale,01/03/-30/05/04 and subsequently at the Angel Row Gallery in Nottingham 24/03/05-07/05/05.

It was published in the We are the Camera catalogue and in an artist’s book Objects of Beauty part funded by the Arts Council and Autograph. The images are often described as objects of beauty but at the same time they connect issues of femininity to wider social, historical and political concerns with particular reference to South Africa.

Your affiliations with UAL: Colleges > London College of Communication
Date: 3 June 2001
Funders: NESTA Fellowship
Related Publications: accompanying catalogue for 'We are the Camera' exhibition, Artist's book 'Objects of Beauty'
Locations / Venues:
LocationFrom DateTo Date
Zelda Cheatle Gallery, London, U.K.3 June 200117 July 2001
'We Are the Camera', Houston Centre of Photography, 2004 Fotofest Biennale.1 March 200430 May 2004
Angel Row Gallery, Nottingham, U.K.24 March 20057 May 2005
Date Deposited: 04 Dec 2009 10:31
Last Modified: 20 Sep 2010 14:11
Item ID: 1346
URI: https://ualresearchonline.arts.ac.uk/id/eprint/1346

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