Anna Miles Gallery

Vita Cochran

An Anthology of Bags

01/12/21 — 18/12/21

I’ve been making bags, I’m surprised to realise, for twenty years. This show brings together 40 of them: a collection, an anthology of bags.

There are flower bags, zip bags, bargello tapestry bags. Rope bags and bags made of triangles. Bags, which are tools for collecting, that are themselves collections – of buttons, gloves, stitches. Bags for picnics, for friends, for children. Some remade for this occasion, some thought up long ago and only now realised, and many newly made this year. I’m never not excited to sit at my desk and start on a new one. Since these bags are carriers, I suppose you could reflect that I’ve put time into them – that they contain passages of work and life. Certainly, when I go back to each bag, I remember when and where I was, who was on my mind. More interesting than that – and this is why I’m happy to see the anthology – is the fact that other people carry these bags away and use them for things, and to hold things, that I don’t control.

In her essay ‘The carrier bag theory of fiction’, Ursula K Le Guin offers a theory of the bag as an overlooked cultural object, arguing that the first tools invented by prehistoric humans were bags, small receptacles in which to gather and transport other things, rather than the weapons and tools of the hunt which are better preserved by history.The people, often women, who made these bags would fill them with things “useful, edible or beautiful” and then carry them back to their communities for eating, sharing and looking at. Surely the bags themselves – Le Guin’s “things to put things in” – were objects of beauty and interest. It excites me to think of these 40 carriers participating playfully in that very old and ever-new story.

– Vita Cochran

Picnic Bag, 2021
Quilted patchwork bag that unfurls to become a 1100 x 1060 picnic blanket

Picnic Bag, 2021

An Anthology of Bags 1-18 December 2021

Angularity Bag No. 1, 2021
Wool with wool applique, 700mm H x 400mm W.

Angularity Bag No. 2, 2021
Wool with wool applique, 700mm H x 400mm W.

Bag of Handles, 2021
Wool felt with wool-covered boning, 200mm H x 240mm W excl handles.

Bargello Bag (Bargello No. 1), 2020-2021
Wool embroidery on canvas with wool suiting lining, 250mm H x 320mm W.

Bloc Bag, 2021
Wool with wool applique and crepe lining, 280mm H x 200mm W. Related to design first made 2015.

Bloc Pocket, 2021
Wool with wool applique, polyester cord strap, dome closing, 190mm H x 110mm W.

Button Bag, 2021
Black trapezium shaped bag with panel of vintage buttons, 210mm H x 330mm W excl handle.
First made 2003

Button Bag (detail)

Cloud Bag, 2021
Wool and linen applique on wool, silver coated denim lining, 350mm H x 325mm W. First made 2011. Final bag of this design.

Compartment Bag, 2007
Vintage nylon gloves, silk lining, glass beads, 330mm L, 5/10. Made for Objectspace Limited Editions. Sold in support of Objectspace.

Difficulties Bag, 2017
Wool embroidery on linen, 205mm H x 290mm W excl handle dimensions. Originally made for Pocket Histories exhibition at Te Uru, Waitakere Contemporary

Flora Bag, 2021
Wool fabric with with wool felt applique, embroidered ‘flourish’ on reverse, 220mm H x 310mm W. Originally made 2001

Flora Noir, 2021
Black floral applique on black wool, 235mm H x 220mm W. Originally made 2001

Hexagonal Bag, 2018-2021
Wool embroidery on wool, silk lining. 180mm H x 270mm W excl strap

Hooked Tulle Bag, 2005
Tulle remnant from Marilyn Sainty workshop, canvas, cotton lining. 180mm H x 230mm W

Joy of Stripes Clutch, 2018-2021
Wool embroidery on linen with 2 strap options. 160mm H x 260mm W x 40mm D

Judy Bag, 2021
Vintage glass and plastic buttons, cotton embroidery on wool, silk lining. 3/5. Originally made 2007, 200mm H x 200mm W excl strap

Nesting Bag, 2021
Linen bag with wool applique and linen lining, 280mm H x 340mm W excl handles. Contrasting ‘day’ and ‘night’ sides (further photos can be supplied). Originally made 2006

Network Bag with matching collar, 2021
Linen/raffia bag, viscose lining, polyester cord and wool decoration, polyester rope strap, 250mm H x 270mm W excl strap. Originally made 2014

Orbit Bags, 2021
Silk, wool and linen applique bags of three zipped pockets and one decorative oval, polyester cord and acetate lining. Worn as if orbiting the wearer. Pockets can be flipped to co-ordinate with outfit. Originally made 2009

Otto Bag, 2021
Drawstring pocket, various fabrics, wool base, silk body, buttons, viscose strap, 180mm H x 150mm W, 1150mm strap. Originally made 2004

Patchwork Wrap, 2021
Quilted linen patchwork with wool and linen lining and felt base. 330 mm H x 290mm W excl handles

Peaks & Troughs (Bargello No. 4), 2021
Wool embroidery on canvas with cotton lining, vintage button, 250mm H x 300mm W excl handles

Petal Bag, 2021
Wool applique on wool with acetate lining, plastic handle with catch, 270mm H x 250mm W. Originally made 2004

Pocket Abstract, 2021 (right) & Stepped Pocket, 2021, 5/5 (left)
Wool embroidery on linen

Pom-poms and circles, 2003
Wool embroidery on wool felt, 250mm H x 275mm W excl handles. Vintage

Rope Bag, 2021
Purple wool with yellow polyester mountaineering rope, 360mm H x 320mm W. First made 2019

Rope Bag, 2021
Lime wool with black polyester mountaineering rope, 360mm H x 320mm W. First made 2019

Rope Bag, 2021
Blue tweed with black/red mountaineering rope, 360mm H x 320mm W. First made 2019

Rope Bag, 2021
Yellow with blue/black mountaineering rope, 360mm H x 320mm W. First made 2019

Satin Ripple (Bargello No. 3), 2021
Wool embroidery on canvas with navy textured silk lining, fastens with a dome, embroidered signature on ‘teardrop’ side, 370mm H x 275mm W

Satin Ripple (Signature detail)

Scalene, 2021
2/2 Wool embroidery on linen with wool lining, 305mm H x 195mm W excl handles. First made 2016.

Silk Stripe, 2021
Vintage silk from Turkey with rayon lining and strap, 190 mm H x 190mm W

Soft Sculpture, 2021
Black wool bag with four sets of cushioned wool handles for holding in hand or wearing over shoulder, dome closure, 330mm H x 310mm W

Tondo Bag, 2021
Wool applique on wool, silk lining, vintage strap, 190mm Diameter. First made 2010.

Venn Diagram Bag, 2021
Wool with wool pockets and houndstooth wool lining, 310mm H x 320mm W plus pockets and straps. First made 2010. Final bag of this design

Wabi Bag, 2021
Wool fabric, cotton quilting, wool lining. Lifetime patching guarantee, 720mm H x 550mm.
First made 2015

Zigzags & Diamonds (Bargello No. 2), 2021
Wool embroidery on canvas, linen lining, vintage strap. 210mm H x 245mm W, excl strap

Zigzags & Diamonds (detail)

Zip Bag, 2021
Wool with 24 vintage metal zips, cotton lining, internal pocket, closes with a zip. 165mm H x 300mm W excl handles. First made 2003

Zip Bag (detail)