I was contemplating my move to Fine Art and what sort of work that I can now produce, now that I am free from the constraints of glass. I have always been excited by the prospect of expanding my creative practice towards a multi-disciplinary approach. The first thing that occurred to me was the enduring image of girls dancing around handbags; the cliche of girls wearing white stilettos dancing to chart-pop at a mainstream “Mecca” nightclub. Although my research is focussed on subcultures and alternatives to mainstream culture, I felt it would be interesting to present the unhip “other”.
I mentioned this line of enquiry to Kim Charnley who suggested reading Sarah Thornton’s Club Cultures: Music, Media and Subcultural Capital, particularly chapter 3 Exploring the Meaning of the Mainstream (or why Sharon and Tracy Dance around their Handbags). Ravers would repeat these cliches, usually drawn from the audience of Top of the Pops or The Hitman and Her. There is still a debate as to whether girls did actually dance around their handbags, but what is apparent is the tension between subcultures and the mainstream, particularly the binary “Us v Them”, the hip and the naff, and the authentic masculine and the perceived frivolous feminine culture.
So my plan is to build a totem of handbags, or if possible a “henge”. The problem is sourcing large quantities of handbags. alternatively I could construct each bag out of cardboard or sheet plastic. If it proves difficult to source the quantities of bags then I could place each bag on a plinth, it would be more feasible to create a henge with a few bags on plinths.