Lyndsey McDougall

Strathearn School outreach: 'The Handbag Project'. 3-18 April

An installation by Hayley Simms, Becky Woods, Camille Douglas, Charlotte Sythes and Emma Taggart.
Opening: Thursday, 2 April, 6-9pm
The Handbag Project
is a PS² outreach project involving A Level Art and Design students from Strathearn Grammar School in East Belfast. They have created work around the theme of 'The Handbag', revealing how it can be both an outward symbol of one’s self and an object of investigation of social/cultural issues. The handbags reflect each girl’s personal response to the theme, incorporating their individual research. Their work reveals how the handbag can be both an outward symbol of one’s self and an object of investigation of social / cultural issues.
The students have been fully involved in the organization of this exhibition; working through initial ideas, developing towards the final outcome; making decisions about the manner in which their work should be presented together and being in charge of designing their publicity postcard.
The Handbag Project was initiated as a PS² outreach project by artist Sharon Kelly and developed in association with Mrs Elizabeth Murphy, Head of Art at Strathearn Grammar School.


Life drawing session

More about the project:
The project initially involved 19 upper sixth A Level Art & Design students and kicked off with a talk by the artist on her work and an introductory discussion around the idea of the Handbag. Several drawing sessions followed exploring the idea of the handbag as an object and receptacle, using different media and approaches. Further explorations were made utilizing a clothed life model in two intensive sessions in the classroom. The students were able to consider the bag in relation to the figure; how it is carried; other uses for the bag (as protection, burden and shelter) and scale.

Life drawing session
All participants were asked if they would like to present further outcomes as part of an exhibition in PS².
Five students were able to take up the challenge and develop ideas towards an exhibition. The remaining work took place outside of school time and involved several meetings and discussions, in person and by email with the project artist, who gave feedback on the ideas and work as it developed.
The project has been a positive opportunity for these students to work individually on artwork to be exhibited in a public space and work collectively to bring this to fruition in the form of a window installation.

PS² would like to thank Elizabeth Murphy, Head of Art Department and all the staff of the Art Department at Strathearn Grammar School for their support.

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