Inspired by the Masters - Tore Bellis - Burning Fashion #1

Behind the Scenes: Setting a purse on fire for art


Preface: Tore Bellis and I have art on display at the Lewisville Grand Theater through the Visual Art League of Lewisville. The exhibit is “Inspired by the Masters”. This post explains the motivation behind Tore’s piece, Burning Fashion #1.


Tore and I frequent the Dallas Design District to surround ourselves with inspiration.  We don’t have to like the art to have an invigorating experience.  But it’s especially motivating when an artist’s work sends us over the moon.  This is the case with Tyler Shield’s work, which is on display at Samuel Lynne Galleries.

Tyler set a bag on fire and photographed it.  Not just any bag.  A designer bag, a Hermes Birkin bag with a price tag of $100,000.  His action produced disapproval and rage as well as admiration and love.  No matter which side of the fence you are on, it’s a very striking photo that sticks with you.  You can view the image here

A year after viewing this piece, it sparked an idea.  Tore decided Tyler Shield’s work would be the catalyst for the “Inspired by the Masters” theme at the Visual Art League of Lewisville.

We set out to locate the perfect purse and scored a cute bag from Goodwill for $3.00.  We couldn’t bear to destroy anything for more than a few dollars. 

The next step was determining the location.  We found a park with built-in grills near the border of Oklahoma and Texas. 

Initially Percival was going to be part of the photo.  He would be enjoying campfire marshmallows as the purse is aflame. 

Inspired by the Masters - Setting a Purse on Fire

How hard can it be to set a purse on fire?  It turns out, it’s not easy or elegant.  But we learned from the experience. 

Inspired by the Masters - Setting a Purse on Fire
Inspired by the Masters - Tore Bellis - Burning Fashion #1

For the sake of art and learning, I sacrificed a plastic head and discovered a fun new hobby:  fire.

Inspired by the Masters - Setting a purse on fire

After reviewing the photos, Tore decided he wanted to reshoot. 

We visited four Goodwill stores in the Dallas area and noticed the prices were $6.00+.  Too steep for us!  Eventually we found a striking blue bag and accepted the $6.00 price as the cost for creating art.   We’re big spenders! 

We returned to the park to set the bag on fire.  This time we used a backdrop stand with black fabric.  This made a profound difference.   Tore also opted not to use Percival.  The concept was conveyed just as effectively with 3 marshmallows placed by the bag. 

Inspired by the Masters - Setting a purse on fire
Inspired by the Masters - Setting a purse on fire

Tore doused the bag with lighter fluid and set it on fire. 

Inspired by the Masters - Setting a purse on fire
Inspired by the Masters - Setting a purse on fire
Inspired by the Masters - Setting a Purse on Fire
Inspired by the Masters - Setting a purse on fire

It was a beautiful, fleeting moment of living and creating art.  And just as swiftly the bag was aflame, ominous storm clouds entreated us to wrap up the experience.  Tore extinguished the fire and a heavy Spring thunderstorm arrived.  We waited under the pavilion for at least 10 minutes before calm returned to the scene. 

Inspired by the Masters - Setting a purse on fire

It was a day of extremes and beautiful art.

Go visit the Visual Art League of Lewisville to see Tore’s art in person. 

Exhibit Dates: May 7 – June 18, 2022
Location: Lewisville Grand Theater

Inspired by the Masters - Tore Bellis - Burning Fashion #1
Inspired by the Masters - Tore Bellis - Burning Fashion #1

Notes: Percival was not harmed during the first photo shoot. We chose him because he’s more responsible than his siblings.

Inspired by the Masters - Tore Bellis - Burning Fashion #1

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