Most women wouldn’t dare draw on a designer handbag, never mind cut it in half, but 37-year-old Debbie Wingham from Doncaster, Yorks, decided to bite the bullet for her most recent project.
The mum-of-three admits it was "upsetting" when she cut the £30 00 (roughly R561 000) Hermes Birkin ostrich pink handbag, but she was determined to "do what nobody else has ever done."
She also dismantled a £10 000 Rolex (roughly R180 000) watch and a £6 000 (roughly R110 000) Chanel purse along with £3 000 (about R56 000) diamond Cartier sunglasses, £1 000 (over R18 000) Chanel earrings and a £15 000 (about R280 000) Panerai watch.
The items were mounted on to bespoke paintings to create a 3D effect and each one will be sold in excess of £75 000 (R1,4 million). And despite the high price tag, her loyal clients are already showing an interest in the paintings which will hang from canvases that are almost 2 metres in height.
“I had a vision and it worked, but I couldn’t have done it alone, so I asked American artist Daniel Maltzman to get involved. We both put some money into a kitty, and I went on to raid some of my client’s wardrobes who tend to wear things just once before it goes out of season (sic)," Debbie explains.
“I have a lot of nice and expensive items, but I like to get my wear out of it and my money’s worth. I’ve never seen anyone cut into designer products and mount them onto a canvas before so there wasn’t any instructions or guides for me to follow. It was brutal and quite upsetting when I began to dismantle the items.
“It took a lot of guts, but I knew the result would be worth it – the paintings are unique. The whole project was a one-shot opportunity as there was no way I was going to fork out another £30 000 [her share of about R560 000 in the investment) to try again if I had made a mistake. Although it was traumatic, I have actually preserved the bag as there will be no wear and tear and it can be admired by everyone," she says of one of the bags used in her painting.
“When I dismantled the watches, I gave them to a designer Debra Franses Bean who makes resin art bags that must go into a compression chamber. The resin bag itself was £5000 (about R93 000). The watches could have shattered, but it was a risk I was willing to take.”
Debbie is best known for being one of the most expensive artists in the world as everything she creates has a luxurious twist. She adds, “When I proposed the idea to Daniel, he thought I was bonkers.
“He was more concerned about the canvases being ruined when I cut into them to incorporate the handbag to make it as real as possible. “I told him to look away but secretly I was a little anxious as there was no chance I could do it again.
“I would say I am the first person to create multi-medium textured images using expensive items. “The Chanel earrings and purse was mine and the rest were ‘reborn’ second hand items," she concludes.
Compiled by Afika Jadezweni
Story and Images by: CEN/Magazine Features
Sign up to W24’s newsletters so you don't miss out on any of our stories and giveaways.