Portrayal  (2015)

“Identity is at once both imposed by others and self-imposed, and is continuously asserted and reasserted in ways that are fluid and fixed.” Beaudry, White.

‘Portrayal’ is a three-part project that explores my identity through hair. Both my mother and grandmother are hairstylists and as a result, I have always been extremely conscious of my hair and how people could easily be transformed by changing their hairstyles.

Aware of this, I chose to use my hair to explore identity and how we present ourselves to others. From a young age I used to enjoy having my hair styled in different ways to transform my appearance. Creating an abundance of curls or in contrast, drawing my hair back, presented me with the opportunity to portray a different facade without going through extreme changes.

For a number of years I studied classical ballet, thus during the majority of this time I retained my hair in a simple fashion, long and chestnut in colour. This was due to the fact that dance required me to coax it into a tight bun or to adjust it according to the various performances.

Subsequently my hair developed into a distinguishing factor; one of the things which people identified and recognised me by. At the time I did not believe that my hair was an accurate identification of who I was, and as a consequence, experimented with several drastic styles in the following years.

In ‘Transitions’, I look back at the different hairstyles I have explored. Looking back, I now realise that the constant changes occurred in tandem with personal changes that I was going through, thus acted as a means of conforming the way I perceived myself  and the way I wanted others to perceive me. Nevertheless, without being fully aware, these changes admittedly contributed to the way others identified me, and in some ways, in how I perceived myself.

Such drastic changes would not have been conceivable had my mother opted for a different career. Besides being passionate about her career, she also cherished the time we spent in each other’s company. Moreover, she was invariably delighted in contributing to the latest style, understanding my ideas and offering genuine advice.

In ‘Exchange’ I reflect on how such transitions have contributed to spending additional time in the company of my mother. Although my hairstyle is continually evolving, for the past few years I have kept my hair copper in colour and curly in style.

‘Permutations’ contemplates how although I am still repeatedly referred to as one with the ‘curly, orange hair’, rather than resisting such an association, I have grown to acknowledge that how I present my hair to the world, reflects my individual choice as a visual manifestation to myself and to others.