The Coiffured exhibition launches in Dublin

The launch of The Coiffured has taken place in the Architectural Archive on Dublin’s Merrion Square.

A Spark initiative, funded by Creative Ireland, The Coiffured is an art exhibition exploring the history of hairdressing. It is a collaboration between artist Amanda Jane Graham, who was a hairdresser before becoming a professional artist; Leitrim Arts Office; Local Enterprise Office; Image Skillnet; and Habic (the Hair and Beauty Industry Confederation).

Highlighting the historical landmarks in hairdressing, from the headdresses of Egyptian pharaohs to Marie Antoinette and Edmund Burke, the project is a creative endeavour born out of the work of Graham, which also seeks to advance the mission of Habic, and to demonstrate the extent to which creativity programmes like Spark can have unique value in any environment.

Graham's work brings together art history, hairdressing history and her expert knowledge of hairdressing techniques, and also highlights the significant contribution of hairdressers to art history.

The exhibition comprises 30 drawings, four 3D printed sculptures and a sound installation that uses a salon chair and hooded dryer to play a series of recorded interviews with hairdressers from different backgrounds.

The launch of The Coiffured saw Image Media director Melanie Morris chair two panel discussions that included Graham; Jenni Crawford, creative director of Kazumi Hair in Dublin; economist Jim Power; Dr Yvonne Delaney, director of the management development unit at University of Limerick; and Professor Mary P Corcoran, professor of sociology at Maynooth University.

The Impacting People discussion featured Graham and Crawford speaking about their own experiences of hairdressing, society's view of the industry and their own aspirations for it in the present day.

Meanwhile, the Shifting Perceptions discussion with Power, Dr Delaney and Professor Corcoran focused on the external viewpoint of the industry.

Both panels highlighted the changing perception of the hairdressing industry, noting that the pandemic was the catalyst of much of this shift. Power said it is important that, as a sector, it is recognised for the significant social economic contribution it makes to the country, and that it gets the respect it deserves from the Government.

The Coiffured runs until 24 February, and a number of associated events will take place throughout its duration.