When I was very small I was given a beautiful doll. If you pushed her tummy button in and pulled her hair at the same time her hair became longer and seemingly more beautiful. The opposite happened when you pushed her tummy button in and her hair retracted, giving her a short hairstyle. As a small child, I was made to have a short ‘unfeminine’ hairstyle by my parents. I instantly fell in love with this doll and so began my journey into a lifetime of fascination with hair.
I trained as a professional hairdresser and have become intrigued by the history, customs and cultural significance that surround hair. With this background, I have incorporated this interest into my art practice.
The Victorians had many rituals surrounding death. Mementos containing human hair were a very important part of this. Love tokens were also made incorporating hair of one’s betrothed or beloved; therefore the act of carrying a piece of the person (their hair) represented keeping that person close to them. An essence of the person is left in the hair, a trace of immortality and nostalgia.
I like my work to be tactile and full of visual seductiveness. By working with hair, I can explore how the female body has and is, objectified, idealised and fetishized. On occasion I restrict the opportunity to touch the items so that this sense is denied. This reoccurs with plaited hair and hairnets symbolising a containment of the feminine and questions: What restrictions are placed upon women within society?
My audience becomes the voyeur, gazing at deconstructed femininity.