What's On

Contents of Women’s Handbags
by Teresa Witz

International Women's Day 2018, Women in Focus, Teresa Wiltz, art, culture, identity, East London, exhibition International Women's Day 2018, Women in Focus, Teresa Wiltz, art, culture, identity, East London, exhibition International Women's Day 2018, Women in Focus, Teresa Wiltz, art, culture, identity, East London, exhibition International Women's Day 2018, Women in Focus, Teresa Wiltz, art, culture, identity, East London, exhibition International Women's Day 2018, Women in Focus, Teresa Wiltz, art, culture, identity, East London, exhibition
International Women's Day 2018, Women in Focus, Teresa Wiltz, art, culture, identity, East London, exhibition International Women's Day 2018, Women in Focus, Teresa Wiltz, art, culture, identity, East London, exhibition International Women's Day 2018, Women in Focus, Teresa Wiltz, art, culture, identity, East London, exhibition International Women's Day 2018, Women in Focus, Teresa Wiltz, art, culture, identity, East London, exhibition International Women's Day 2018, Women in Focus, Teresa Wiltz, art, culture, identity, East London, exhibition

This series of oil paintings depict the contents of various women’s handbags.

Teresa Witz asked a number of people if they would empty their bags and allow her to take photographs and make sketches of the contents. Each bag contains different items and reveals a portrait of the owner, giving insight into their identity, personality and everyday lives. From these photographs, she has developed a series of oil paintings on wooden panels and canvases.

Come and see Teresa’s work and meet the artist as part of our Women in Focus Festival. She invites you to contribute to the project by allowing her to photograph you handbag and contents to add to this growing selection of portraits.

The story behind The Contents of Women’s Handbags

“My interest and consequent research into the contents of women’s handbags started in 2016 after having been inspired by an article by Julia Twigg and Christina Buse – ‘Women with Dementia and their Handbags’ (Buse & Twigg, 2014). The article analysed the role of handbags in the everyday lives of women with dementia and about how the bag’s contents helped them to reminisce and tell their stories.

A few years prior to this, my mother quite suddenly died and I had kept her handbag with the contents that she had been carrying with her on the day she passed away. I began to think a lot about what we carry in our bags – the functional items, the forms of identification and also things that don’t have any daily useful functions but are little treasures that have some special meaning.

Our bags are really an extension of who we are and often contain very personal and private contents, as well as functional items and mementoes which carry a lot of meanings. Looking at the contents you start to get an insight into that person’s world. Every item that’s in their bag says something about that person, and whether they’ve been selected consciously or unconsciously, they each have a story. They form a portrait of the person’s personality.”

About Teresa Witz

Teresa Witz is an internationally renowned portrait painter of modern icons – celebrity, athlete, and sporting figures – as well as accepting individual commissions for portraits. A year after achieving her Doctorate in Fine Art, she was appointed one of the official Olympic artists for the London 2012 Games.