Kalliopi Lemos: Bag of Aspirations

Bag of Aspirations is a gigantic version of an iconic and expensive designer handbag, and represents the aspirations of consumerism. It explores how the fashion industry perpetuates the narrow ideals of beauty and behaviour that are often imposed on women.

Lemos uses items that are traditionally seen as feminine – such as necklaces and handbags – to consider how women are defined and constrained by society, not only in terms of their appearance, but also their hopes and expectations.

Though made of steel, the sculpture skilfully reflects the folds and creases of worn leather. The work is part of a series called Terms of Endearment, which all represent familiar objects associated with women, including a bra and corset, at an extraordinary and unfamiliar scale. Forged in hard steel their material also creates a stark contrast to their usual softness. Lemos refers to how women have to fortify themselves in the face of expectations from the outside world, so in one way these ‘tools’ can be seen as a female fighter’s suit of armour.

Courtesy the artist and Gazelli Art House, London.

Lock detail of Kalliopi Lemos – Bag of Aspirations 2019 at Yorkshire Sculpture Park