My current hair cutting shears: Century Classic, Tondeo, made in Solingen, Germany 6″ (68mm blade) (1998-ish)
After over forty years of hairdressing my hair cutting shears have become a part of my hand. They’re as much a prosthetic, two razor-sharp fingers, as they are a hand tool. I love that I even get some sensation of touch; when I cut hair I can feel them cutting and the hair’s texture.
As was the tradition when I was a Junior (1973), my first pair of shears were given to me by my stylist, Robert Lobetta; they were engraved with a salon’s name: Andre Bernard. The shears were five and a half inches, blunt and pitted with the corrosion that is so typical of badly maintained scissors. I either gave them back to Robert or chucked them away, however, I have a feeling that he may have actually asked for them back.
Robert gave me another pair that were equally as bad, this time engraved with the name Artisan. So I dumped them and took myself off to Ogee’s on the corner of Shaftesbury Avenue and Earlham Street to buy a brand new pair of hair cutting shears.
Such was my ego I didn’t want to look like a n00bie junior buying his first pair of hair cutting shears. I confidently strode up to the counter and pointed at a pair almost exactly the same as the Artisan shears. “Can I have a gander at those,” I said, and she handed them over. I cut the hairs off of the back of my hand like I would a client’s neck fluff, and showing off, I span them on my finger like a cowboy would his .45 Colt pistol, then I slapped them down on the counter saying, “I’ll take ’em.” What a douchebag I was. They turned out to be a pretty average shyte pair.
I don’t know if you’ve ever thrown a knife, but I spent the entire summer holidays when I was thirteen teaching myself how to throw my Scout sheath knife. Basically, what you do is: hold the blade of the knife between fingers and thumb with the spine of the knife towards the palm of your hand, and the handle pointing away from you and towards the target. Keep fingers and palm away from the point and the sharpened edge. Cock your wrist sideways towards your forearm, and throw the knife almost like a dart. The knife will rotate, cartwheel like, and hopefully the knife point will stick in!
The point of the matter being rotation. Spin any hand tool and you’ll soon discover its balance and sometimes its purpose of use. A balanced pair of shears will feel good in the hand.
Never buy a pair of shears because of what they look like. My grandfather used to say, “A bad workman always blames his tools.” Well I surely cussed those little fuckers.
I hold no sentimentality or affection for my shears, I usually give them away when I’ve finished with them. These were given to a friend who uses them to trim her fringe very occasionally – I was glad to see the back of them.
ECA, made in Solingen, Germany (rostfrei stainless steel) 5.5″ (50mm blade) (1980)
One of my favourite pairs of shears even though they were the only pair to really bite me – they cut a nice big V on the base of my index finger. Most hairdressers cut themselves with a new pair of shears at least once. I saw Ricci Burns slice through his knuckle to the bone, he got a trip to hospital and six stitches for his troubles – well, we thought it was funny at the time!
Jaguar satin, Easy Rand Rocket, made in Solingen, Germany (ice tempered stainless steel) 5″ (40mm blade) (1990-ish)
These were the only shears that I’ve had professionally sharpened – they fucked them up for me by grinding too much off of the blade. I usually sharpen my shears myself on my great-grandfather’s fine whetstone – it’s getting a little worn after about a hundred years.
A regular rub on the whetstone, a wipe with a thick chamois and a few drops of clear machine oil and my old hair cutting shears are back up like new again.
My most magical and memorable scissor moment wasn’t a celebrity encounter, and they weren’t even my scissors, it was when I cut my son’s cord with the midwife’s umbilical scissors – what sensational and emotional feeling.
I sing of Olaf glad and big
whose warmest heart recoiled at war:
a conscientious object-or
his wellbelovéd colonel (trig
westpointer most succinctly bred)
took erring Olaf soon in hand;
but-though an host of overjoyed
noncoms (first knocking on the head
him) do through icy waters roll
that helplessness which others stroke
with brushes recently employed
anent this muddy toiletbowl,
while kindred intellects evoke
allegiance per blunt instruments-
Olaf(being to all intents
a corpse and wanting any rag
upon what God unto him gave)
responds, without getting annoyed
“I will not kiss your fucking flag”
straightway the silver bird looked grave
(departing hurriedly to shave)
but-though all kinds of officers
(a yearning nation’s blueeyed pride)
their passive prey did kick and curse
until for wear their clarion
voices and boots were much the worse
and egged the firstclassprivates on
his rectum wickedly to tease
by means of skilfully applied
bayonets roasted hot with heat-
Olaf(upon what were once knees)
does almost ceaselessly repeat
“there is some shit I will not eat”
our president, being of which
assertions duly notified
threw the yellowsonofabitch
into a dungeon, where he died
Christ (of His mercy infinite)
i pray to see; and Olaf, too
unless statistics lie he was
more brave than me: more blond than you.
We Europeans have come a long way since The Great War
conscientious objectors-sip costa coffee
Ultras throw pissylittlebottles and vandalise
a beautiful but crooked game
My wife went to Halide Edip Adivar High School in Üskudar, so when I read Irmak Yenisehirlioglu’s tweet, I was very intrigued:
“In 1925, as Halide Edip Adivar (1884-1964) was writing her memoirs on a farm in England; not far away, Virginia Woolf (1882-1941) was working on ‘To the Lighthouse’. Halide wrote directly in English and Virginia was intimate with Vita Sackville-West.” paraphrase quote@Irmak_Ye 19 Jun 2016.
Halide Edip Adivar (1884-1964) was a Turkish novelist, educational and social reformer, nationalist, and political leader for women’s rights. Best known for her novels criticizing the low social status of Turkish women and what she saw as the lack of interest of most women in changing their situation.
On what farm did Edip write her memoirs in 1925?
My journey to answer the question, “on what farm did Edip write her memoirs in 1925,” starts with Halide Edip Adivar’s book: ‘Memoirs of Halide Edib’ With a frontispiece in color by Alexandre Pankoff and many illustrations from photographs. Published: 4 April 1927? (exact publication date unknown) by The Century Co., New York & London.
It was when I was skip reading Halide Edip’s memoirs that I realised I had opened up a can of worms of names and dates. But the first significant name to spring out at me was Miss Isabel Fry.
Isabel Fry (1869-1958) was an educationalist, social worker and reformer. Born into a famous reforming Quaker family, she was one of nine children. She taught at Roedean (1891-95) with Constance de la Cherois Crommelin (later Mrs John Masefield (important)). In 1895-ish she moved to London with Constance Crommelin, and eventually founded a school in Marylebone Road.
In 1908/1909 Halide Edip Adivar stayed with Isabel in Marylebone Road, London. And subsequently, Isabel visited Turkey for the first time herself in 1908/1909, and stayed with Halide Edip for three weeks.
For me, the whole story of Halide Edip in England revolves around her enduring friendship with Isabel Fry. My God, how the rich and famous flit around the world – even in the early 1900s!
This is the house that I believe is Rectory Farm, Great Hampden
In 1909 Isabel Fry bought Rectory Farm, Great Hampden, Buckinghamshire as a ‘summer cottage’ with her friends the poet and novelist John Masefield and his wife Constance. “It’s a lovely little farm in Buckinghamshire, high up on a chalk hill surrounded by beech woods and common land, a very fresh, pretty, but rather bare and cold country like most chalk hills. Said Masefield in 1909.” Forever England: The Life of Rupert Brooke By Mike Read
John Masefield wrote ‘Gallipoli’ 1916.
Rectory Farm is the farm where Masefield read to Halide Edip: “One is a scene of Mr. Masefield’s ‘Pompeii,’ which he read to me in Miss Fry’s farm-house at Hampden. It was not published then, and I have not read it since, but it impressed me as most forceful.” Memoirs of Halide Edib 1909
Clearly Halide Edip was strongly influenced by her visit to England in 1909. She had met Edward Granville Browne (1862-1926), Henry Woodd Nevinson (1856-1941), obviously John Edward Masefield (1878-1967) and I would have thought Isabel Fry’s brother Roger Eliot Fry (1866-1934), who was a member of the Bloomsbury Group, to which Virginia Woolf belonged.
Just to say, Roger Fry lived just down the road from Isabel’s home on Marylebone Road at 33 Fitzroy Square, Fitzrovia, London W1T 6EU.
In June 1912 Halide Edip visited Isabel Fry again. Halide took a flat in Cambridge Terrace, Regents Park, London. Here she wrote ‘New Turan’ (Yeni Turan – 1912). And Isabel started to take deprived children to Rectory Farm, for holidays and teaching.
Cambridge Terrace a row of terraced mansions overlooking Regent’s Park, London Borough of Camden, London, England.
In 1914 Isabel Fry paid her second (and last) visit to Turkey, she sayed for one month. And John & Constance Masefield gave up Rectory Farm and moved to Lollingdon Farm in Berkshire.
In 1917 Isabel Fry founded The Farmhouse School, Mayortorne Manor, Wendover, Buckinghamshire. It was an experimental school in which training in farm and household duties were emphasised – She left in 1930.
In 1926 Halide Edib ‘and associates’ were accused of treason in Turkey! She and her husband escaped to Europe. They lived in Paris, London, the United States, and India from 1926 to 1939 when they returned to Turkey.
Halide Edib’s ‘The Turkish ordeal: Being the further memoirs of Halide Edib’ published: The Century Co., New York & London 1928.
Halide Edib is the first Turkish author to publish a novel written firstly in English: The Clown and His Daughter (Sinekli Bakkal) published: Allen & Unwin, 1935 London.
Halide Edip Adivar returned to Turkey (1939), and became professor of English literature at the Faculty of Letters in Istanbul University. In 1950, she was elected to Parliament, resigning in 1954.
It is my view that Halide Edip (and maybe her husband Adnan Adivar – but I doubt it) spent time with Isabel Fry between 1926 and 1930 at The Farmhouse School in Buckinghamshire; and ask yourself this: did Isabel Fry leave Rectory Farm at the same time as the Masefields in 1914?
Vote Leave #VoteLeave – it’s got nothing to do with WW1, WW2 or Adolf Hitler
Vote Leave on June 23
1. The main reason why I will Vote Leave on June 23 in the EU referendum is Greece! Greece is a great example of EU bollocks from the moment they applied to join. And the way that Germany has been allowed to get away with treating Greece so badly is almost criminal. Ordinary people like myself, can never fully understand the financial machinations of the EU because of the total lack of transparency. And with that in mind: The end result for Greece being: German and French banks benefiting from the EU bailouts that were intended to support the people of Greece! It seems to me that the EU commissioners and bankers are acting like the Borgias! Is this an example of EU social justice (I bet Anthony Wedgwood Benn is turning in his grave) – let’s look after the banks and bankers so the Euro doesn’t disappear up its own arse? Of course, the EU orders Britain to pay its share of the Greek bailout!
David Cameron: “I have sympathy for Greece, but it’s not for the UK to bail it out as we are not a member of the Euro Area.”
Angela Merkel: “For you Dave ze war is over; pay up und shut up.”
David Cameron: “Immediately mein Chancellor.” Clicks’ heels, nods’ head, puts’ left index finger between top lip and nose, et cetera et cetera.
1. My equal top reason I’ll Vote Leave is Project Fear and the establishment and media conspiracy to scare the daft British people shitless. (Which seems to be working!) Why are we SO under the cosh? Is standing up for an independent Britain, that’s free to trade with the so called global village – that every hippy talked about in the early 70s – politically incorrect and tantamount to hanging an English flag out of ones window?
Then there are the mountain of lies about trade, the economy, house prices, jobs, security, the NHS, immigration, etc., the list is long – and it’s all creative-guesswork.
Seems to me that it’s not Great Britain, it’s Feeble Britain, “Ooh Betty, they said I might possibly lose £2,200 by 2020.”
1. My third equal top reason why I’ll be Voting to Leave is: I believe the EU undermines our wonderful and much envied British Democracy. Faceless, almost nameless, unelected EU commissioners make laws in secret that effect and treat all EU member states exactly the same. The ‘little man’, the ordinary person, wherever we are within the European Union doesn’t really get much of say at all, apart from voting for our MEP – who mainly don’t give a shit because they’ve got their snouts in the EU trough.
And can you imagine countries like Spain, for example, giving Catalonia an independence referendum like Scotland had on 18 September 2014? That is great British Democracy at work.
BTW, you have read Animal Farm (by George Orwell, pub. 1945) haven’t you?
2. I will Vote Leave to support the regeneration of British farming and fisheries. The Common Agricultural Policy is a typical EU subsidies con weighted in favour of French farmers – there I said it!
François Hollande: “UK farmers can go fuck themselves, apples Français are crunchier.”
(BUT NOT BETTER.)
I don’t expect you’re old enough to remember Le Crunch and the beginning of the decline of the UK apple industry. (Which I feel is symbolic of UK farming in general.) As soon as the common market opened up in the mid 1970s the out-for-a-profit supermarkets poured French Golden Delicious down our bloody throats. And because we’re guided by our wallets and not our brains, we allowed our apple and tree-fruit farming industry slip into decrepitude.
And if you’re thinking about cider apples and craft cider making, get real, it’s an industry run by the ‘big boys’ like the Dutch company Heineken, and not some Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall-esque, old Etonian from Gloucestershire.
The UK fishing industry went exactly the same way. I suppose it all started with the ‘Cod Wars’ in the late 1950s early 1960s (concerning the waters surrounding Iceland), no history lesson here, but it went on until we joined the common market in the mid 1970s (it ended in 1976).
Enter stage right the Common Fisheries Policy. When Iceland achieved its overall goal of protecting its waters, the fisheries policy of the EU meted out quotas and opened up the UK waters to the rest of Europe. The UK fishing industry was almost totally fucked! Obviously the CFP has been heavily criticised by UK fishermen, most of whom I expect to Vote Leave.
I could go on and on, yeah, I know I’m rambling, however they are the main reasons I will vote leave: Greece, sovereignty, democracy and my beloved cod & chips washed down with a bottle of Gwynt Y Ddraig’s Black Dragon cider.
Boris Johnson and Sirs at The Spectator, that really was such a massive stitch-up, or to quote the man himself, who recently criticised David Cameron by saying, “This is a bigger stitch-up than the Bayeux Tapestry.” However, let’s be realistic, I’m sure the choice was ‘semi-political’, and anyway, I wouldn’t want to be ‘named’ and summoned to the court of the Turkish Sultan Erdogan, like poor old Jan Böhmermann and be given a turkey slap.
Anyway, I thought I’d write kindly riposte (Recep Tayyip Erdoğan the President of Turkey is unable to do this because his time is being taken up designing and building a new petting zoo in Ankara. Oh, and he has absolutely no sense of humour):
The glamorous politician Bo Johnson,
Like a Minoan he can leap over oxen,
However, his rhyme was a crime,
And he should do some time,
That glamorous politician Bo Johnson.
I wrote about five limericks for the competition, two of which I sent in to The Spectator. They’re far too rude for my website folks. Send me a Twitter message, and I’ll send them to you :-) xXx
What I love about Marilyn is that she has been so many different shades of blonde – Golden, Ash, Champagne, Honey, Bleached, Strawberry, Platinum and White Blonde – you’ve got to love that in a person. This image: Marilyn Monroe by Bert Stern (the last sitting, June 1962) is a White Blond (Bleach + 6% / 20 vol peroxide + toner).
Thinking of going blonde this Summer? Thought I’d point out the different versions for you :) There are three main categories: warm (red spectrum), cool(blue/green spectrum) and neutral!
Varieties of Blonde:
Flaxen Blonde: the original neutral, natural blonde. Very light but not white blonde.
Yellow Blonde: obviously a blonde with a yellow hue – slightly gold maybe, hopefully! At its very best a Champagne Blonde.
Platinum Blonde, White Blonde: often extremely light, a whitish looking blonde; almost all natural platinum blondes (tow-headed) are children. Technically, a platinum blonde is blueish and therefore a cold blonde. It is sometimes called a Silver Blonde.
Sandy Blonde: a beige blonde, a greyish-hazel or cream-coloured blonde – naturally warm. Makes beautiful, natural looking highlights.
Golden Blonde: includes pinks and yellows to create a slightly darker, rich, warm, golden-yellow blonde.
Strawberry Blonde, Venetian Blonde or Honey Blonde: think of red then add it to what you think of as blonde! It’s a reddish blonde.
Dirty Blonde, Dishwater Blonde, Grey Blonde, Mouse: a natural dark blonde that is the perfect background for highlights. Naturally includes flecks of golden blonde and brown, but is often flat and dull, and quite frankly, mousey.
Ash-Blonde: technically ash means green! However, green counteracts and neutralizes red. A cold and very natural looking blonde. It can come out as a smoky steel blonde.
Bleached Blonde, Peroxide Blonde: an artificial, yellowish blonde that is trying to be a platinum blonde, but it’s not. The base blonde of a ‘bleach and toner.’
Dark blonde: when natural, it looks a shade of light brown in the Winter and lightens in the Summer. If your natural colour was brown, but is now grey; go dark blonde. Yet another classic blonde for highlights.
If you search Google for “Chemotherapy Hair Advice” you will find loads of excellent articles (esp. NHS .pdf documents) detailing the procedure and hair issues. However, I would like to share some of my thoughts and give you a bit hairdressers of chemotherapy hair advice!
Like most people I’ve known a number of people who have had chemotherapy, quite a lot actually, but as a hairdresser, I’ve taken a very keen interest in their hair and the advice that has been given to them by their supporting team.
Chemotherapy Hair Advice
The normal daily average hair loss for everyone (you & me) is about 100 hairs. I say that because: When using the cold cap it is my understanding that chemotherapy slows hair growth. Therefore: if you are undergoing chemotherapy over a period of, say, twelve weeks, by the end of the treatment, and beyond, your hair WILL get thinner – that would be absolutely normal, even if you didn’t get extra hair falling out due to the chemotherapy. And just like postnatal hair loss, your hair will grow back.
Handle with care – To prevent your hair from being Pulled out, don’t pull it! Sounds like stupid advice, but ‘hair dynamics’ could mean that even long dirty hair, or hair wrapped around super soft sponge rollers, is being put under too much force / stress and may be pulled out. Think about what pulls your hair, and don’t do it.
Pony-tails must be kept very loose, and always use non-metal hair elastics like 4mm Blax Snag Free Hair Elastics or a ribbon.
Obviously, don’t get all your hair cut off! Play style and length by ear, but I would recommend getting your hair cut in a style so you can allow it to dry naturally. And that usually means: medium short. It’ll make life much easier for a whole load of reasons.
How to wash your hair during chemotherapy: Wash it twice a week as a maximum. Use lukewarm, tepid water. Apply a very small amount of shampoo to the scalp/hair roots and very gently massage – don’t worry too much about the ends. Only give one wash, rinse very thoroughly. Pat hair dry, don’t rub with towel.
Don’t wash your hair under a power shower.
Always use a very small amount of conditioner (for normal hair) (whether you need it or not) and comb your hair Very Gently under the running water.
Personally, I would recommend that you don’t use leave-in conditioners, or any product that is normally left in your hair like: hairspray, setting lotion, gel, mousse and wax, dry shampoo, volumising and shine shampoo, etc., because they may cause product build-up.
One of my clients said, the current advice is to not wash your hair 2 days before or 2 days after chemotherapy.
Use a pure, mild, acid balanced shampoo and conditioner (PH about 5.00 – 7.00). I like Timotei Pure Shampoo contains no silicones, parabens or colourants. Does contain Sodium Laureth Sulfate. On the other hand, I recommend Urtekram Children’s Shampoo and conditioner, get it from Amazon.co.uk.
Please be aware that the name baby or children’s shampoo, doesn’t necessarily mean mild and acid balanced – some of them are alkaline (above PH 7)!
Parabens are preservatives and are used to restrict the growth of yeasts, molds and bacteria.
Sodium Lauryl Sulphate (SLS, Sodium Laureth Sulfate, SLES) – an oil dispersant, detergent and surfactant, it is used in soaps, shampoos, toothpaste, and hundreds of cosmetic and beauty products. Personally, I wouldn’t worry about it too much.
Don’t leave any shampoo or conditioner on your scalp or in your hair, always rinse thoroughly.
Most hairdressing products are designed to be rinsed out.
If your hair gets very knotty, comb your hair from the ends first and work your way towards the roots. Never, ever, tug.
If you really need to dry and style your hair with a hair-dryer: use the lowest heat setting, gentlest speed and for God’s sake take off the nozzle.
All my hairstyles can be dried/styled by just using your fingers, hands; you don’t need to use brushes, they tend to catch and pull.
Feed You Hair, Eat A Rainbow: Diet doesn’t only effect your health, but also your hair – feed it! Eat: peppers, sweet potatoes, carrots, spinach, mango, papaya, apricots, blueberries, sardines, salmon, pumpkin & ground flax seeds, walnuts and wheat germ – I’m talking, lots of multi-coloured fruit and vegetables, oily fish, nuts, seeds and grains.
I advise you to:
Leave longer for your hair appointment, so I can take my time to be gentle with your hair.
Try having your hair cut dry, without washing. It makes no difference to me or the outcome of your style, but it may help your hair a little? Wash it after the cut and allow it to dry naturally.
Still have your hair cut every four to five weeks, it’s important to keep your hair at the optimum length, plus I can keep an eye on the condition of your hair.
Obviously you must avoid all permanent tinting, permanent waving (all chemical processes) until at least three months after your chemotherapy treatment finishes. However, there is such a thing as a water rinse (they’re like the old fashioned coloured setting lotion): Roux Fanci-Full Temporary Rinse. They’re great for toning down and blending gray hair and roots. And just like a setting lotion they wash out.
Have a gander in Waitrose for your hair care products, they’ve got a very good selection. Don’t confuse Waitrose Pure Shampoo for Timotei Pure Shampoo.
That’s it! If you would like to talk with me personally, please get in contact x
When I read, “The core goal of social media is to enhance client experiences, cultivate your relationship online,” I actually shivered. Really, I did. I think I’ve got issues with vacuous #TwitterPlatitudes like: enhance client experiences YUK!
Surely it should read, “The core goal of social media is to be Social?” i.e: Companionable.
Look, I’m not going to beat around the bush here, I’ve been on social media almost since it started in 1997; in 1998 I started my first blog! And I can assure you, if you want to, Get the best out of Social Media, all you have to do is follow the rules of social media etiquette – Number one being: Be Friendly.
Here’s an example of how NOT to do it:
My wife is reading The Tea Planter’s Wife by Dinah Jefferies, and she is (maybe was) really enjoing it. So she looked-up and followed @DinahJefferies on Twitter. And she tweeted: “I’m reading #TheTeaPlantersWife by @DinahJefferies and loving it.”
Dinah Jefferies Liked the tweet.
One of my wife’s followers tweeted, “Thanks for recommendation, ordering a copy today”
And my wife replied, “I hope you’ll enjoy it :-)”
Dinah Jefferies did NOT follow my wife back, and did not engage further – even though my wife had potentially sold a book for her.
What should Dinah Jefferies have done?
Simply, Dinah Jefferies should have thanked my wife and engaged her in further conversation, because they are the basic rules of social media etiquette.
My wife unfollowed @DinahJefferies and is now a little iffy with the book.
Social Media is all about being social. COMMUNICATION – If you can’t do it, don’t do it!
Yet another blog post that has been requested by my friends on #HairHour – 10 Feb 2016. Initially inspired by Salon Evolution (@salonevolution) and egged on by Hair Hour (@Hair_Hour). Actually this is a blog post that I’ve wanted to write for ages.
Grayson Perry – Guerrilla Tactics: (2002) Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam. NAi(010) Publishers, Rotterdam, Netherlands.
The first time I saw Grayson Perry’s artwork was in June 2002 at the Stedelijk modern art museum, Amsterdam. And I was totally bowled over. And I felt an affinity with his work. You see, I’ve always fancied myself as a bit of an artist. A lot of hairdressers do; because we’re working with our hands and there is a strong sense of sculpting; we are working with shape and form, each hairdo being individual. At this point I could start rambling on and on about my education, art influences and my days as a trainee architectural and industrial model maker, but I won’t. You’ll thank me for that.
Me, 18, training to be an architectural and industrial model maker at Paradigm Models.
Yeah, well, anyway, it was 1976 and the client I was standing behind said, “You hairdressers are now like pop stars.”
“Am I like a pop star?” I asked.
“Yes, very much so,” she said, and that’s where it ended. And I’ve never really understood how she meant it; was it good or bad to be like a pop star? In reality, I felt as though I were like an artist because I was trying to express myself through my work. And for me, my creations had a narrative behind them, they still do; it’s why I found Abandoned Suitcase Reveals A Love Affair so fascinating – I felt a million miles away from what I visualised as being a pop star.
Over the past year (in 2015) the Bank of England asked for nominations for ‘people of historic significance from the world of visual arts’ – they want to put an artist on a twenty pound note. And yes, as one would expect, the wonderful world of hairdressing offered up the bloody obvious – the old maestro himself, Vidal Sassoon! A little embarrassing I thought. Let’s face it, hairdressing isn’t really a visual art, is it – even though I and most other hairdressers would like it to be. Hairdressing is a craft. And a transient craft at that!
In 2013 Grayson Perry gave BBC Radio 4’s Reith Lecture, entitled Playing to the Gallery. As a devotee, I listened and actually took some notes (of which I’m about to use). In one of the three lectures (Beating the bounds) Perry presents eight tests to mark the boundaries of art to establish if it’s art that one is looking at! Here I will sort of apply Perry’s tests to hairdressing and see how we fare:
Is it in a gallery or an art context?
Artist Cornelia Parker, in a collaboration with Tilda Swinton (British actress, performance artist, model, and fashion icon), created an art installation called: The Maybe (1995), where Swinton lay ‘asleep’ in a glass vitrine display cabinet at the Serpentine Gallery, London. There is no mention of Swinton’s hair anywhere – You can take a hairstyle into a gallery, but that doesn’t make it art!
For me, art is about ‘expressing an original idea’ within a context (a body of work) and a narrative. Take Pablo Picasso’s artwork: Bull’s Head (Tête de taureau – 1942), simply assembled from an old leather bicycle seat (the head) and a rusty pair of handlebars (the horns). It’s one of those artworks that you can easily diminish by saying, “I could have done that!” However, it expresses an original idea, it sits well within today’s art context and was intended by Picasso to be art – pushing your old bike into a gallery wouldn’t have the same effect.
Hairstyles struggle, in my opinion, to fit within an art context because of their ‘intentionality’ and lack of ‘meaning.’
Is it a boring version of something else?
Even though the fashion industry, coiffeurs and their clientèle take hairstyles seriously, in my view there is far too much acclamation. There is a falseness in the fashion industry that ‘hurts’ hairdressing – the hair at the Paris fashion show was unoriginal, drab, boring, but the fashionistas applauded it enthusiastically.
Hairdressing can be both original and aesthetically pleasing (yeah and it can be funny too G.Perry), but however it appears: divine or disgusting, ordinary or extraordinary, it functions within the bounds of an aesthetic framework – Sounds quite a lot like ART to me – Oh Dear!
Is it made by an artist?
“Art historian Ernst Gombrich said, ‘there is no such thing as art, only artists.’ So you have to be an artist to make art.” Grayson Perry, 2013, BBC Radio 4, Reith Lecture, Playing To The Gallery, Beating the Bounds.
Ai Weiwei The Artist Barber of Caochangdi, Beijing
The Chinese Contemporary artist, activist and Lego bandito Ai Weiwei, is known for cutting hair. Does this make his haircuts a work of art? Absofuckinglutely NOT.
Yeah, photography Is problematic. I’m not sure Perry got this boundary marker right? He asked a photographer friend of his for a definition of a photograph as art, and his friend said, if it’s bigger than two metres and costs more than five figures! There was no mention of the visual artist Man Ray, who contributed so much to the Dada and Surrealist movements – his photographs usually make five figures or more.
Obviously hairstyles and photography go hand in hand, for how else are we to see hairstyles from the 1930s, 40s, 50s… or ‘Trevor Sorbie’s wedge?’ Is a photograph of a hairstyle in a gallery representative of hairdressing as an art form? Surely the answer has got to be ‘No’ – isn’t that artistic entitlement by proxy?
I suppose what I’m saying is, even though the National Portrait Gallery are celebrating one hundred years of Vogue, ‘A Century of Style’ (1916-2016), by putting on an exhibition, the hairstyles therein are not art.
The limited edition test
A classic example of a limited edition is that of a signed limited edition print; in the bottom left-hand corner, written in pencil by the artist, is the edition number of the print: 3/250 – meaning that this is the third print in a run of two hundred and fifty copies. I’m sure you can work out the maths, the greater the number of copies, the less each copy is worth. And I suppose you could say, the greater the number of copies, the more likely each copy becomes less of an artwork and more of a commercial object?
Apply this to hairdressing, and quite frankly you’ve got a shed load of hairdressing industry bollocks to contend with. Limited edition doesn’t really exist, even though in theory it’s supposed to – each client is a one off – in spite of the fact that they all look the fucking same!
The handbag and hipster test
The ‘handbags’ are the wives of the super rich Russian oligarchs, they waft through the streets of London soaking up culture and property. The ‘hipsters’ look a lot like lumbersexuals – beards, glasses, messenger bags and single speed or better still, fixed gear bikes (but they can’t build a fire or chop wood). It’s said that art belongs to the educated and the rich – so where ever you see a preponderance of ostentatious designer handbags and custom built Brick Lane bikes chained to the railings, you can be pretty sure something arty-farty is in the air.
Every London hairdresser knows these people, they are the wonderfully pernickety friends and clients who call us pop stars, artists and Daaarling. However, it’s also these people who I believe Vidal Sassoon was referring to when Reuters interviewed him in 2010. Sassoon said, “Hairdressing in general hasn’t been given the kudos it deserves. It’s not recognised by enough people as a worthy craft.”
I agree with Sassoon, it’s not recognised as a worthy craft; and that’s because of the transitory nature of hairdressing, a chignon, a style, a haircut are ephemeral and therefore seemingly worthless like paper cups, or a copy of Gustav Klimt’s The Kiss on a never-ending print run.
The rubbish dump test (my favourite)
The rubbish dump test is the test I’ve always used. I imagine the artwork hidden in a scrap yard and wonder if I could pick it out amongst debris – BTW, I used to spend a lot of time in scrap yards looking for car parts. I liked Grayson Perry’s warning that a lot of artworks would fail the test because the rubbish dump itself may be the artwork.
Do you remember David Mach’s ‘nuclear protest’ sculpture Polaris (1983), made out of thousands of used car tyres? A scrapheap challenge extraordinaire outside the Royal Festival Hall, South Bank Centre, London – someone set fire to it.
What’s the equivalent rubbish dump test for hair? Oxford Street on the first day of the winter sales? Discovering a genuine artistic creation under such conditions may take a little extra artistic talent in itself. Most people wouldn’t recognise a good haircut if it jumped out and bit them.
The computer art test
The computer art test is the last of Grayson Perry’s tests. Perry asks, how do we know it’s web art, and not just another interesting Website? The question seems a little naive to me, it shows a slight lack of understanding about what the internet is. Does a ‘piece’ of web art really need to be a Website? And it’s very interesting to look at Contemporary Artists’ Websites – not an inspiring pixel to be found.
Internet art, just like art in the real world, must make us stop and think and engage.
The same can be said for hairdressing sites, very uninspiring; my desire to stop and think, and not click-off within five seconds, has yet to be fulfilled.
I’ve got to say: for me, the epitome of shitty internet hair are those unbelievably egotistical, Mirror Image App. photographs that are the excrement of social media.
This is not art because we’re smiling – it’s a Happy Snap
Obviously hairdressing could be an art form, hairdressers, like artists, have the ability to see the world differently and express it and themselves through their work – most hairdressers do that, it’s part of the job. The problem comes with value, because hairdressing it so transient, so everyday, so commonplace.
Anyway, I’ve no problem with being called a craftsman; take a trip to your local museum and see all those artefacts made by craftsman throughout millennia – brilliant.