Meeting Suitcases

I LIKE OLD SUITCASES, DO YOU? Meeting Suitcases is a collection of medium format, colour photographs with text that explore vintage suitcases and the narratives that surround them. The photographs depict sites where I have met these classic cases at different stages of my life as well as their own. 

Every suitcase tells a different story, and each photograph reveals a fresh perspective on objects that travel along side us from one step of life to another. I began this series using an on-line blog to document and write about these objects of travel, where we met, and above all to learn about the histories of the people who owned them. The combination of image and text encourages us to investigate and re-live the suitcase’s journeys. The photographs begin to make tangible our relationship to storytelling by confronting marks left behind from the journey and memory.


Meeting Suitcases Forum

Welcome to my suitcase blog! Below are a selection of written stories that have been documented at the premier exhibition of Meeting Suitcases at The Queen Elizabeth Theatre Mezzanine Gallery during March to May 2010. Each person wrote a story in their own hand and left a signature under it. Reading these accounts was one of the most rewarding parts of the exhibition for myself, the artist. I feel very fortunate to still have these stories, and in the spirit of continuing the dialogue about these objects of travel, I have recorded them here. Feel free to write a story if you feel so inclined in the comment area or email to


Two suitcases travel from Vancouver YVR. Thousands of miles together. Side by side. Very comfortable. Touching and supporting each other through the leg of the journey, and are separated by the baggage handler at the destination. This seems to be a metaphor of life; meet greet, get acquainted and leave. lose... lose...

When my father died it fell to me to sort through his personal effects. Among the boxes that now contain his short sixty years of living there are two trunks that I have yet to open. One is his footlocker from his years in the Navy, and one is a trunk his father passed on to him. I have yet to open either. Perhaps it is easier to think that he is still on a journey; only this time traveling light.

I had an old suitcase full of action figures, the old and forgotten heros I didn’t give a damn about anymore. They kept piling up into a jumble of plastic limbs and bodies every once in a while I would take them out to cut and burn them, creating freakish frankenstinian combinations and making my own characters. Eventually the day came to sell them,  so I headed down to the old flea market. I sat there for a few hours selling them one by one until a boy came along and bought one of my melted and mangled creations. I was sad to see the cyber-robot-ninja-turtle go. Then a father came along looking  for toys for his son. For the kingly sum of $15 he bought the rest of them, suitcase and all.
-Earthstar Jai

I have two suitcases (old type), one for summer and one for winter clothes. I used to use a very small cardboard-like suitcase to commute from S.F.U. to a boarding home via Coquitlam circa 1975-76’. It held a suitable quantity of textbooks and notebooks. It was beige with dark brown cornices. 
-Jim S

The suitcases remind me of all those childhood trips and the anticipation of going somewhere. They made great containers for all our childhood collections of toys & miscellaneous. I still remember the blue one my aunt left me as a child. Thanks for the recollections.

My dad used to have reoccurring “suitcase dreams” as he called them. One evening he left home on a ferry in a suit to spend the night  downtown. I suggested he stay on the island, forget about his suitcases. He’s now in a long term care home, with dementia. He stayed.

I would like to tell you about an artist I saw in the Future Cities exhibition in Hamilton, Ontario in 2003/4. The artist (whose name is lost to me at the moment) purchased suitcases from their indigenous cities and in the suitcase was a model the outside city!
- Trevor

Capturing moments in time, drawing attention to the essence of life in objects that matter and make up what is real in life. Life is a journey.

When did we stop calling them suitcases? Luggage has such a negative connotation. Backpacks don’t have character and don’t live very long. I have a MEC backpack I used in university for years but I also dragged it through several countries across the globe. The only personality it has is from the places it has been with me. Emotions and settings burned into as I look at it. But to anyone else it would just be a backpack

-B. Lyseng