Black Hair Exhibition

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The New Art Museum (NAE) in Nottingham is launching a new exhibition this Friday. Titled ‘The Art of Black Hair,’ the exhibition is a selection of hair memorabilia and for visitors to learn about the history of black hair from ancient times to the modern age. The NAE collaborated with The National Caribbean Heritage Museum last year to deliver a ‘hair do’ and ‘Afro Hair Party’. From that community event, professional photographs were taken of people with different hairstyles – braids, afro, dreadlocks, curly perm, twists, cornrows, finger waves, bantu knots and relaxed hair. To showcase the different styles, shapes and ages, those photographic portraits will be used in the upcoming exhibition gallery.  

Whether you are styling your own hair or doing someone else’s, the beauty and versatility of afro hair can literally become a work of art. It is an expression of creativity, imagination and heritage. Every black man and woman has a hair story and what we do with our hair on a daily basis is artistic.

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Speaking on Jodi Law’s BBC Radio Nottingham’s show (8th Jan 2017), guest speaker Linda Burrell said, “We are creating a masterpiece everyday with ourselves and family.”

Back in the day, styling hair was one of the ways the women black community bonded and socialised. Women would look after their own and other children and comb their hair, fix it up and make it look presentable. The tools people used back then such as a flat iron comb on the paraffin heater has advanced in the form of a hair straightener. Today everyone is using GHDs to straighten their hair. We live in a generation where people of different races admire what we can actually do with our hair. Instead of using ways to ‘fit in’ or be like the people we see in the mainstream media, our art of black hair is leading by example.  

Here are some hair styles: 

From top left to right: Young person with natural hair and combs. Child with twists and beads. Actor with natural curls. Singer with black and brown braids.Rapper with afro and afro comb. Myself with Crochet braids.  Pictures taken from Instagram and Pinterest.

The ‘The Art of Black Hair’ exhibition is free for all and launches on Friday 14th January. There will be an interactive section to share hair memories plus tips on how to look after your hair and photographs on display of the ‘Hair Party’ workshop. Also, there will be hairdressers from the 50s and 60s that are still around today. This event will be a great opportunity to come together, share and reflect on the art of hair and the rich history.

Nottingham New Art Exchange

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