H.A.I.R – History. Attitude. Identity. Respect.
A free exhibition that took place on Sunday 7th Ocboter, 11-5pm at Rich Mix, 35-47 Bethnal Green Road, E1 6LA
Overview. HAIR celebrates the key historical aspects of the origins of Afro textured hair dating back from Ancient Africa through to modern day era. This was showcased throuh art, film, photography, literature, and debates and workshops.
I was honoured to be a partner alongside Tina of Manesteam Beauty for the H.A.I.R. Exhibition founded by Teanne Andrews and Shasha Henriques.
With months of planning, meetings and late nights the morning of the exhibition had arrived. There was so much to exhibit and set out for the day, but with all hands on deck by 11am the white painted room of Rich Mix had transformed into a colourful historical exhibition. On arrival guests where handed a brochure and goodybag with samples of hair products, H.A.I.R. badge & leaflets. In a few hours the room was buzzing with gusts.
The event started with a performance from spoken word artist Comfort and Ja Sante
Exhibition: There were 6 window bays which contained information, images, pictures, text and artwork, artefacts from the Kush dynasty, 1000BC to the 20th century. Artists had kindly contributed their artwork which surrounded the walls on both sides of the room. An education and history lesson was given to all who read the articles and text amongst the timeline.
Debate 1. During the day there were 2 debates. The first debate was a discusion about whether it is importance to know the history and significance of hair practices in todays socieity. The panel consisted of Belinda of BeUnique Haircare, Crystal aka Crystal Afro a UK Hair Blogger, Sally-Ann Ashton of the Afro Comb Project and Charmaine Simpson from Black History Studies. They shared their views with audiance participation on the historical importance of history of hair, beauty perceptions, afro texture hair care and gooming practices.
Debate 2. The second debate followed the screening of the documentary Black Bold and Beautiful (1999) directed by Canadian Nadine Valcin. The documentary highlights the social messages, straight v natural, conforming to society beauty beliefs, and the bonds between mother and daughter. There was a memorable clip which showed a woman having her hair hot combed (aka pressed) and you could see the smoke whilst the hair was being straightened. The audience faces during this clip bought back childhood memories as they seemed to relate to the time when they had their hair hot combed, stretched and even remembered the odd burn from the comb. The panel consisted of Sandra Gittens a author and hairdressing lecturer and Ben Arogundade the creater of the book called ‘Black Beauty’. The debate covered views about the documentary, the hair and beauty industry and perceptions of image.
There were 2 natural hair segmants. Hair Braiding techniques by Lorraine who demonstrated styling skills of how to braid cornrows, Ghana braid, twists, flat twists and single braid attachment. The volunteer model kept the styles in her hair for the duration of the event for everyone to see. Melissa & Huguette (Bespoke Hair Care) gave their expert advice and tips on how to maintain afro textured and sisterlocs hair.
Retrospective Hub: It was like being in a corner of your own front room back in the 70s stretching out in front of the TV. Surrounded with posters covering the walls of icons of the hip hop and motown era like the Jackson 5, Salt & Pepper, Kid & Play. The short monologue video co-ordinated and edited by Divina which you were able to watch the clip and listen through headphones which constantly played throughout the day.
Barber Shop. The conversations and laughter in the Barbers Shop corner reminded me of the C4 hit TV show Desmonds (1989-1994) and the film called Barbers Shop (2002) staring Ice Cube. If you got a chance to sit in the hot seat to have your hair groomed by Seyi of Ujima Unisex Salon you would not of been disappointed.
It was a lively atmosphere throughout the day as from every angle of the room there was an activity to partake in. There was a mixed audience of both male and female, as usually hair events attract mainly female attendees. Audience members were interviewed by Felicity to give her feedback on the whole event. At the end of the day we had to reluctantly take down the pictures, images, text, artefacts, decorations and clear the room back to the white painted room as we found it at 8:45am.
It was nice to catch up with some friends who said they really enjoyed the Exhibition.
The exhibition well deserved to be on show for more than 1 day. So I give thanks to Teanne and Sasha, all the volunteers, guests and friends and new acquantancies I met throughout the day and I know H.A.I.R Exhibition 2013 will be just as inspirational.
blessings – Sister E