A collection of bags from all over the world that are significant because of their cultural roles, including army kitbags, a sporran, a bag made out of an albatross foot, and high-fashion handbags.
Handbags, plastic bags, backpacks, chatelaines, kete, briefcases, inro, misers' purses, basikete, and medicine bags … these multiple forms reflect the bag's diverse uses across many cultures.
But what's the social and historical significance behind this universal object we tote about day to day? Who carries a bag? And who doesn't? What do we put in them? And how do we unpack their value and meaning?
The exhibition Carried Away: Bags Unpacked features more than 150 bags from Auckland Museum's Applied Arts and Design Collection, a nationally significant research archive of works by key makers and designers from New Zealand and abroad, alongside key objects from the History, Taonga Maori, Pacific, and Ethnology collections. This book serves as both a visual catalogue of the exhibition and an exploration of the symbolism and power behind bags.
Guided by a curiosity for the stories told by objects that are overlooked or dismissed, Grace Lai is interested in seeking out the web of connections between material and immaterial culture. This philosophy was developed during her time as an Alphawood Scholar at SOAS University of London. Today, Grace is an art historian and curator at Auckland Museum, where she leads the exhibition, curation and development of the Applied Arts and Design collection. Currently, her research is focused on expanding the collection and on the discourse of contemporary New Zealand practitioners - which has seen her get carried away by bags.
Allen & Unwin
A&U New Zealand
Society & culture: general