Re-evaluating historical art through the prism of hairdressing
This unique solo exhibition of work by Leitrim based artist Amanda Jane Graham explores with humour and critical reflection the significant historical landmarks in the history of hairdressing.
Graham’s practice is autobiographical. Before going to art college, she worked for many years as a hairstylist which imbues and informs this truly imaginative work. She delves into personal history and excavates memories and experiences, some of which are challenging but, almost always, humour emerges. She articulates her story through references to humour in popular culture.
In The Coiffured Graham brings art history, hairdressing history and her expert knowledge of hairdressing techniques together in the artworks. The art practice is research-led. A sociological lens reveals the hairdressing profession’s rich and fantastic history. The artist explores the significant landmarks in the history of hairdressing, from the headdresses of Egyptian pharaohs to Queen Marie Antoinette and 18th-century Irish parliamentarian Edmund Burke who wrote, ‘the occupation of a hairdresser cannot be a matter of honour to any person.’
Graham’s creative approach provokes a re-evaluation of historical art from the perspective of a hairstylist, acknowledging the collaborative process. Using instantly recognisable equipment and techniques, she highlights the significant contribution of hairstylists to art history and directly places the hairdressing profession within the frame of historical portraiture.
The Coiffured analyses historical artworks from the perspective of a hairstylist to understand the professional input of hairdressers to portraiture for millennia. To do this, I scrutinise the artwork’s hairstyle and replace it with my approach using modern equipment. Hood dryers and rollers are also motifs to place the hairstylist within the frame of historical portraiture. It is my first time working with 3D drawings and sculptural forms. I’m eager to develop this way of creating and instigating conversation around collaborative processes in historical artworks, creative acknowledgement, and occupational omission. Amanda Jane Graham, Artist
The Coiffured is a series of twenty humorous drawings and four 3D printed sculptures inspired by sculptures from 300 BC to the 18th century. The exhibition also features a sound installation, a series of recorded interviews with hairdressers from different backgrounds and stages in career illustrating the day-to-day experience of a hairdresser. A hood dryer, a recurring motif across the 2 and 3D works, functions as the sound booth.
Accompanying the exhibition is a publication which features essays that explore the hairdressing industry from historical and contemporary contexts and expand on an understanding of creativity and its value. Contributors include: Amanda Jane Graham, Professor Kerstin Mey, President of the University of Limerick, Mary Corcoran, Professor of Sociology, Maynooth University, and Don Herzog, Edson R. Sunderland Professor of Law, University of Michigan.
A symposium in the Irish Architectural Archive at 3pm on 18 January 2023 will explore the nature of creativity in a broader sense, the impacts that creativity can have on individuals as well as groups, organisations and whole societies. Featured speakers include Amanda Jane Graham, Dr Declan Long, NCAD, Dr Jonathan Price Lecturer in Creativity and Enterprise at University of Leeds, and Professor Kerstin Mey. Admission is free. Book here.
For more see The Coiffured.
The project is a Spark initiative and collaboration between the Artist, Leitrim Arts Office, Local Enterprise Office Image Skillnet and HABIC (Hair and Beauty Industry Confederation of Ireland). Funded by Creative Ireland.