Whilst I was in London I went to visit an art Gallery called Hotel Elephant near Elephant and Castle Station. They have an exhibition there at the moment called “Assuming Too Much” by the artist Amy Pennington for the Open Barbers. The Open Barbers are a LGBT+ barbers who are paid on a sliding scale so you pay what you can afford, they are open and friendly for queer and transgender people to get personalised hairdressing. Here’s a link to their website so you can see more: http://openbarbers.co.uk/ .
They had an artist in residence for 4 months (Amy Pennington) who would draw hair portraits of people who had just had their hair cut. The illustrations are of the hair, no other features of the face and have been compiled into a look book for the salon.
The exhibition had some of her 400 illustrations she did in her time at the barbers. It also had a cardboard installation piece of a hairdressers chair and equipment.
These portraits demonstrated how the hair is apart of people’s identity and in context of the Open Barbers it’s about gender identity and it’s relationship between image and self expression of freedom that the client’s at the Open Barbers have.
Some of the participants named the portraits themselves making them charming and funny for example: don’t let me look like Hitler.
You can find more about it at Amy’s website : http://amypennington.co.uk/open-barbers-residency/ .
The reason I liked this exhibition is because it shows how identity can be expressed but isn’t the only part that defines you; your assuming too much. It demonstrates how creative and unique queer and trans people are but your appearance isn’t all that you are. The fact the hair portraits don’t have faces means they can belong to any one and be any one. Plus the illustrations are beautiful.
The exhibition is on until the 14th October 2016, check it out, I highly recommend it. It’s also has a nice cafe/bar there.
Be Who You Want To Be. Lucy.