"The groundwork of all happiness is health." - Leigh Hunt

Why our hair can – and will – be greater than just decorative

Hair naturally grows spontaneously from our heads, but is never left in its natural state. Throughout our lives we spend money and time getting it done – cutting, shaving, curling, dying, straightening, covering, adding, or simply arranging. Our hairstyles represent our sense of identity and the way we wish others to see us. Seductive and demanding, hair is imbued with expectations and aspirations about beauty, identity, culture and race. It offers creative possibilities, and might express compatibility and dissonance. But what does removing the hair from the pinnacle once reveal?

Our attitudes toward human and animal hair are very different. We cringe on the considered a dress or jacket product of human hair, but think nothing of wearing a sheep's wool jumper or a camel's hair coat. Why is the trade in cat and dog hair banned within the EU on the grounds that they’re pets, while the trade in human hair is totally unregulated? What type of intimate hair tangles occur after we brush human hair with pig bristles, use a badger hair shaving brush, or make a judge's wig with horse hair? Clearly our attitude to those different fibers just isn’t about their physical properties – all of them consist of keratin – but about how we construct our conceptual categories of animals and humans.

Our relationship with hair is explored in it. Hair! Human storiesa brand new exhibition I created, wherein we consider the role of hair as a raw fiber and as a fabric that will be recycled into wigs, extensions, rope, artworks and even clothing. There is potential.

Hairdress made by Jenny Dutton from clippings collected from Tony and Guy's salon.
Jenny Dutton, Provided by the creator (not reused).

These ideas are explored through unexpected objects, resembling a Clothing made of human hair By Jenny Dutton, a A purse of hair of Tabitha Moses, a A tiered, hair wedding cake By Jane Hoodless, Portraits of People Wearing Clothes made from your dog's fur, and a cat hair necklace produced from my very own cats fur. Visitors can touch and admire the varied structures.

There is quite a bit about hair that’s unusual. Seen within the pile, it's disturbing, perhaps calling to mind. Piles of hair from Jews killed in Nazi death camps. As each an element of the body and a product of the body, it’s what it’s British anthropologist Mary Douglas Famously classified as “matter out of place”. When found on the pinnacle, hair evokes ideas of vitality, masculinity, femininity or seduction, but once removed it seems to evoke death. Yet hair has often taken on a troubled lifetime of its own.

Locks of Nineteenth-century poet Percy Byes Shelley and his wife and Frankenstein creator Mary Shelley.
British Library

Victorians were famous for keeping locks of the hair of lovers, relatives and the departed, sometimes lovingly stuck in albums or included in jewellery. By wearing one's hair near the skin, intimacy will be maintained. Collaborating with my local hairdresser, Hacketts, I collected over 30 people's hair and commented on their feelings about their hair. The exhibit also features the mother and daughter's long auburn hair, one cut in a bun against her father's will within the Nineteen Forties, the opposite within the Seventies – each Was wrapped in love. scarf. For some, the act of presenting a haircut evoked memories of a love-hate relationship with their hair, as journalist Isabelle Brooke did. Struggling with her curly hair..

Hair just isn’t something that individuals prefer to throw away. Cutting the hair of a mother, grandchild or child seems like a violation. Personal identity stays within the hair even after it’s faraway from the pinnacle. It's no surprise then that hair has been utilized in magic in lots of cultures, with the concept an individual will be harmed by manipulating something that was once a part of them. was

A lifetime of your personal

And yet day by day our hair leaves us. On a median we lose 50 to 100 hairs a day. This implies that those of us with thick hair lose greater than 30,000 hairs a 12 months. In most of Europe, hair loss is ignored unless an individual suffers from alopecia or one other type of hair loss, and even then we pay more attention to its absence from the scalp. Instead, once the hair is separated, the realm is gone.

But that's not the case in lots of parts of Asia, where long-haired women rigorously collect hair that falls out during brushing or washing. Because such “combings” have a market value.. In India, 100g dusty hair balls sell for 100 rupees (around £1). In many Asian countries, hair sellers travel on foot, by bicycle or boat, from door to door to gather waste hair, which they sell to traders who export it to hair-turning workshops. , that are positioned in a few of the poorest areas.

In the exhibition we see images of girls and teenagers painstakingly detangling, sorting, de-lysing and brushing hair while up-cycling into wig-like products. Combs are just one a part of the hair market: hair also comes from women who sell it on to the trade, or through donations made for religious or charitable reasons. Once gathered into perfect bunches it is distributed to hair factories in China and used to make a reasonable range of wigs and hair extensions for the worldwide market.

Unlike beloved hair that runs in families, this hair is totally stripped of its personal and cultural associations. It is even assigned recent identities – marketed and sold as “Brazilian”, “Peruvian” or “European” – because it is bleached, dyed and remade to suit different tastes on the planet market. Is.

By the time hair is reattached it has normally traveled 1000’s of miles, passed through many hands and undergone many processes. In its recent incarnation it re-personalizes and invests with human desires for beauty, race, religion, health and glamour. Hair – although a fiber composed of dead matter – is nevertheless imbued with human life and emotion.

Given the importance of hair to us, and its extraordinary strength, elasticity and sturdiness, it’s surprising that we within the West make no use of this natural resource. In the UK alone, 6.5 million kilograms of hair enter the waste stream yearly. Environmentally-minded designers and their creations, resembling Sane Visors Hair ropeby Alex Bizet Hair hoodieor the approach of the American organization Matter of Trust Using waste hair to absorb oil spillssuggest the potential for higher utilization of our ubiquitous human fiber.