Hair: Untold Stories

The Horniman Museum's Hair - Untold Stories explores the incredible influence of human hair on modern day society and culture. Peter Gray reports.

Society is obsessed with hair. From childhood to old age, our hair and hairstyles define us in ways too numerous to mention. Now, a new exhibition at South London’s Horniman Museum is setting out to explore the influence that the not so humble barnet has played in our lives.

Hair: Untold Stories aims to ‘put the substance before the style’ while unlocking the untold stories of hair. “There is more to hair than washing, combing, and cutting” says the Horniman Museum’s website of the exhibition.

“It is an extraordinary fibre with a range of unexpected possibilities. From jewellery and dresses to armour and environmental protection, the show highlights the qualities of hair as a material. It also explores our complex relationship with hair both on, and off, our heads” the article continues.

Untold Stories explores the modern world’s complex relationship with hair, and how hair has become entangled with society’s expectations and our relationships to others. With the help of countless artists, filmmakers, designers and members of the public, Hair tells a range of stories about how hair influences every aspect of our culture, from fashion to art and politics.

Highlights of the exhibition include an installation by the artist Korantema Anyimadu. Hair Shop explores the experiences of Black women and non-binary people with their hair in the UK. Other artists included in the show include Stacy Bias, Jenni Dutton, Erwan Fichou, Jane Hoodless, Keith Jarrett, Julian Knxx, Habiba Nabisubi, Isaac Olvera, Farrah Riley Gray, Anna Sparr, Studio Swine, Sanne Visser, Hiromo Yamazki and Ryo Yamazki.

To coincide with the launch of the show, the Horniman Museum is launching a series of mini exhibitions, talks and discussions. Cult Hair uses photographs to showcase a series of ordinary people whose hairstyles are not constrained by mainstream beauty standards. Ordinary people with extraordinary hair, Cult Hair will highlight the power and beauty of people living out their true form.

Intimate Archives, meanwhile, explores ‘African diasporic social experiments, rituals, and practices of hair care.’ An assemblage of personal and found collections, Horniman Museum archives, and artistic collaborations, the exhibition articulates hair as ‘a site of Black feminist care, community, and possibility.’

Hair: Untold Stories is curated by the Emeritus Professor of Anthropology Emma Tarlo in conjunction with Goldsmiths, University of London.

Hair: Untold Stories will be at the Horniman Museum from the until the 19th of June 2022. Please note, however, that the exhibition will not be open on Sundays. More information about the show is available here.

For information on other great exhibitions in London, please click here.

-London's Best Events-
What: exhibition
When: 4 Dec 21 - 19 Jun 22
Where: Forest Hill
Website: Horniman Museum