The Final Display

With only a couple of days left of this semester I have reached the final completion of my project. Welcome to my hairy wonderland.

I wanted my space to be both grotesque but intriguing. A disgusting wonderland that makes us stop and question our revulsion as after all, its only hair. Hair is seen as dirty and unpleasant when it is not attached to our bodies but it is also very strong and holds our DNA which is very spectacular. As my display consists of soap molds my plan was to let my audience walk into a space that smells clean but does not look it. If I had a larger space and a lower ceiling I would’ve loved to create a hair curtain that the viewers would have to walk through and interact with to get to my work. This would make them feel repulsed before they have even reached my work.

The right side of my display is the work I created that highlights the amazing side of hair. I have a series of framed hair that look quite photographic. The tension of the hair being pulled creates stray hairs and brings the portraits to life.

Also on the right side is the soap mold I made from a cast of my own hand. It has shriveled more than the previous post showed but I feel this adds to the creepy hair display. I have wrapped a pair of tights that have been stuffed with hair around the hand which ties it together with the sculpture and allows the clean soap with the ‘dirty’ hair to work together in harmony.

The final piece that shows that interesting side of hair is my screen print. This is an image of hair under the microscope that has been screen printed and sprinkled with hair. This looks very intriguing at first but when you go up closer to it and realise it is hair it can create a disgusted reaction.

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The left hand side of my display  shows the slightly more disgusting side of hair. It starts with two hair balls slumped on a plinth. After visiting hairdressers to collect their hair in bags, these balls of hair came out the bag looking exactly like this. They appear almost-human like as they relaxed once they were released from their bags. Its as if they are a human torso that has just finished a large meal and has unbuttoned their trousers. Their edges are quite smooth and the hair itself is very clean but they do have a creepy and unhygienic look about them.

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Alongside this I have displayed my ‘Free the Leg Hair’ poster that is also plastered around my University in a campaign fashion. This print looks like it could be an advertisement for shoes or even women’s razors but on closer inspection you can see the ugly truth, the legs are covered in hair. ‘Free the Leg Hair’ is printed on the image to make clear my reasoning behind the work. The idea is to make my audience feel disgusted by the female hairy legs but to then question their disgust as it is fine for men to have hairy legs so why not woman.

My creepy hairy sculptures were inspired by feminist art and derived from my images of hairy legs. I stuffed tights with hair and created a male and female sculpture by using hair and the tension of soap to create the male and female genitals. The legs hang lose to again emphasise the unfair idea that woman having hairy legs is disgusting and unattractive but men having hairy legs is completely normal. I wanted my sculptures to represent the human body through shapes and textures but to also be monstrous and creepy.

My hairy banner hangs over my work as a celebration of hair and its amazing qualities. I hope my audience feel both disgusted and amazed by my work and they finally begin to question why they are disgusted by hair when its unattached from our bodies, or when it is attached to female legs.

And there we have it, 3rd Year Semester 2 is done and dusted. I have really enjoyed 3rd year and have tried and tested a lot of different techniques which I hope will help me in my final year. When I’m back I will be working on my degree show and on the road to finishing my degree which is a very scary thought. So watch this space and stay tuned for more crazy work to come.

Making Realistic Soap Hands

After creating my soap hands by melting soap and pouring it into rubber gloves, I wanted to make hands that were more realistic. However, this did not happen without many difficulties, failures and frustrations.

My first plan was to make a mold of my hand that I could pour the soap into but after speaking to the technician at the MakeLab in DJCAD I was advised to try out their carving machine and carve into the soap instead. To do this I 3D scanned my friends hand and edited it in Rhino. Unfortunately, because our hands move so much no matter how hard we try to stay still, the scan had many flaws including webbed fingers. I tried my best to fix it but I was losing the detail of the original hand which was what I was after in the first place.

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To try and fix this problem I created molds of my hands using ModRoc and 3D scanned these as they would stay still.

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The plan now was to use the 3D scan of the ModRoc hands and the carving machine in the MakeLab to carve out the hand from a large block of soap. The machine didn’t like carving the soap for some reason and just stopped working after a while so again, I needed a new plan.

Going back to the original plan of making a mold I used my 3D scan of the ModRoc hand and with help from Rob in the MakeLab, attempted to make a 3D print of a mold of my hand. The print would be in two parts with an indentation of the 3D scanned hand in between. I would pour the melted soap into the mold and once it had set I would open it up and wah la! There would be a hand made of soap. But to carry on the theme of failing this print did not work either and would not give me the mold I was after.

So it was back to the drawing board once again. Rob helped me create another 3D scan, this time of my own hand and with some altering of the system it worked a lot better than the first time. I edited the file in Rhino to create a 3D print of a mold of my hand that I could pour melted soap into directly.

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The first attempt at using my mold was not successful, after I poured the soap in and waited a few days for it to set, I cut open the mold using a electric saw-like tool. Unfortunately, as the air could not get into the mold to dry it out the soap was still quite wet and fell apart when I cut the mold open. This was very disheartening but I soldiered on and printed another mold. This time after the soap had set inside the hand I pierced holes into the mold to allow the soap to dry out. A week after I poured the soap into the mold I opened it using the saw tools and this time used smaller drill bits as well. And finally it worked! I was left with a beautiful life-size hand made out of soap.

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It was quite surreal to see my own hand made out of soap, especially after all of the hardship and failures it took to get to this point. I am proud of this hand and plan on displaying it on its own on a plinth. The hand is weird, grotesque as it is slightly shriveled but also very clean and hygienic. It contradicts my hairy sculpture but also goes hand-in-hand with it as people do not like to see soap with hair on it. The hand also adds a more obvious human aspect to my display in among the abstract hairy wonderland. My next post will be the last one of this semester and will show all of my finished work in my studio space so stay tuned.

 

 

Free the Leg Hair – The Campaign

I created the ‘Free the Leg Hair’ campaign after looking into hair and how it projects the feeling of disgust. Hairy legs on females is seen as unattractive, unhygienic and lethargic. I wanted to change this preconception as after all, having hair on our legs is completely natural. And if its alright for men to flaunt their bushy legs why is there a different rule for woman?

I stuffed natural coloured tights with hair and then removed it, leaving some hair behind clinging to the material of the tights. I then wore the tights and had my friend photograph me in a sexy, pin-up style photo shoot. I wanted to mimic an advert for female razors where the ladies are portrayed in a sexy way with their glossy smooth legs, except mines would be hairy.

My aim was for the viewer to feel disgusted by the hair on my legs, but to then question why they feel disgusted by it. Leg hair should not make woman look or feel any less attractive than when they have smooth legs. If men can do it, then so can we.

I printed off my photographs with ‘Free the Leg Hair’ typed on them, inspired by the ‘Free the Nipple’ movement. I have placed these posters around my university near other posters that advertise events in my city. People may think it is poster for an event, or perhaps a club for feminists. Whatever they think, I hope that the posters capture people’s attention and make them stop and ponder about our hair and how we judge it so cruelly.

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Using my Microscope Pictures

My microscope images of hair were so amazing that I had to use them in an amazing way to do them justice. I was advised to try screen printing using the screen printing medium and to then sprinkle hair on top. I thought this would be a great way to create an image of hair using hair. It would also highlight how amazing hair is but in a grotesque way as hair on paper is not as appealing as paint.

I tried a few different images until I got one that worked well. However, I preferred the images that were not so magnified so you could see the separate strands but these images did not show the detail of the grains.

 

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I then thought about scale. I wanted to create a fairly large piece that would be able to show the detail of the grains but also have the shape of the strands. Again, this did not give me the detail I had hoped for. I still love the shape but I had really hoped for the strands to come through.

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I tried a different image using half tone dots which was an absolute disaster and resulted in a large square of hair. But if at first, second, or third you don’t succeed try, try again! I will continue to play about with different images and maybe change the medium I am printing with as I am determined to get the image I want. I will update you all on my progress as I go.

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Drawing with the laser cutting has become my new favourite tool. I used this method to draw the image of hair onto black card which gave an amazing ghostly effect. I am not sure yet if I will develop this any further as I am still concentrating on my screen prints and making more soap hands but it is a possibility.

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Lastly, I used my Free the Leg Hair images of my legs wearing hairy tights from my previous post and Photoshopped the microscope images of hair onto them. The idea behind this was to show that hairy legs on woman is not disgusting as hair is such a magnificent thing. When magnified we can really see the shapes and structures that make up our hair which takes away the feeling of disgust and replaces it with awe and amazement.

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Free the Leg Hair

We all know the ‘Free The Nipple’ campaign, the movement to stop the censorship of women’s nipples in society. What I propose is something similar in the realm of equality but different in the area of the body.

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Free the Leg Hair was an idea that came to me after I stuffed tights with human hair. The tights looked disgusting, like hairy legs. But then I asked myself, why am I disgusted by hairy legs? Men walk about with thick black hair on their legs without anyone taking a second glance, but not women. Women with hairy legs are outlawed in society, they are seen as unhygienic, repulsive and definitely not sexy. And so Free the Leg Hair was born. This is about equality and questioning our disgust of hair.

My lovely friend photographed myself wearing high heels and a lace skirt. We firstly photographed my legs in our studio space to see how well it would work. The pictures looked great, I wasn’t so keen on the fishnet pictures so I didn’t carry on with them. We then took more photographs in my living room to give a more luxurious effect. I wanted the images to have a feminine and sexy look to them, like an advertisement for female razors. When the viewer looks at these images they can feel that something is off. They then feel disgust when they notice the legs have hair on them.

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I wanted these images to look like a campaign, so I added text. I played about with different fonts and styles but I felt like staying close to the original ‘Free the Nipple’ font in a plainer style was the best way to go so I discarded my first attempt.

The last image is a more masculine pose to highlight the fact that if these were male legs there would be no problem. I hope to blow these images up and display them alongside my grotesque and microscope work. I want to show a comparison between the disgusting side and the amazing side of hair and I hope these images lie somewhere in between.

 

Hair Under the Microscope

Hair is fascinating. I have been concentrating on the disgusting side of hair but lets not forget how amazing it is. Hair holds our DNA, the information about us and our families. It also looks pretty amazing under the microscope.

I had the opportunity to have a look at a few strands of hair under a light microscope which was fascinating but the images weren’t quite as clear as I wanted.

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I was then introduced to a life scientist who helped me use an electron microscope. This allowed me to get more magnified images where I could see the grain and texture. I had to coat the hair under a beautiful purple light which made it look like little bits of wire. The three samples were blonde, ginger and brown hair.

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I think the images are beautiful. You would never guess that this is what hair looks like when magnified. The texture looks completely different, almost chalk like. There is a lot of things that the images remind me of; the bark from trees, ripples in sand, cellulite. It was an amazing opportunity to see such an every day object in this way and I am excited to put the images to use. I plan to Photoshop the images onto my legs to represent hairy legs in a new way. I also plan to screen print the microscope images using glue and sprinkle hair on top so the hair creates the image. I will post my development as I go so stay tuned.

Melting and Molding Soap

And for my next trick I will be molding soap into hands.

Working with bars of soap and hair has been fun but it was time to shake things up a bit. To go alongside my tights sculpture I have been making hands made out of soap. As well as seeing hair unattached from the body, seeing hands without a body is very grotesque and frightening. Soap covered in hair is disgusting but imagine soap shaped like hands covered in hair. This will add to my repulsive theme while still bringing in the human body aspect. To make the hand mold I first tried to cover a glove with Siligum mold paste but this failed as it wouldn’t stick to the rubber glove. I then realised I could cut out the middle man and pour the soap directly into the glove which would make life a lot easier.

I bought a normal bar of soap from Tesco, grated it so it would melt quicker, added water and let it boil.

Once melted, I poured the soap into a rubber glove and let it cool and solidify. This worked quite well apart from the thumb falling off as it became unattached during the cooling process in the glove. I am still very pleased with how it turned out as I didn’t really know what to expect.

I am currently trying this out again to see if I can keep the thumb attached but I have put this soap hand to good use and placed it amongst my tights to see how it will look. I am still unsure how I will display this sculpture so for now I will keep visiting hairdressers, stuffing more tights and molding more soap. The life of an art student!

Development – Feminist Art

After researching artists who work with the female form and the feminist movement I had a go at making some small sculptures of my own with this same theme.

This sculpture firstly came about because I dropped the candle and it snapped in half, so originally I was using the Plasticine to ‘glue’ it back together. But a gluey mess turned into a figure that then turned female. I added hair to the areas that humans naturally grow it, such as our underarms, legs and private parts. The figure is embracing her natural form, hairy and free just like her male counterparts.

Picture this; you’re staying in a hotel and go to use your bathroom. There is soap sitting out on the sink but on closer inspection.. hair! Small strands of hair stuck to the soap! Your mind imagines the dirty, hairy person that last used this and the area of the body they were washing. Disgusting is it not? So here we have a bar of soap that has sprouted a pair of legs. The legs are crossed in a feminine fashion and are of course, covered in hair. This piece relates to my previous post of the unfair expectation that woman must have silky, smooth, hair free legs and men can have natural bushy legs with no judgement. I have used the soap bar covered in hair to cause disgust, just as women’s hairy legs do in society.

The nipple, we all have them, men and woman. But somehow nipples in artwork seem to be more of a representation of woman, even though they are censored in our day to day lives. But a hairy nipple, well this is a male trait. How dare woman have hairy nipples, they must be smooth all over like a prepubescent child.

The vagina is not the prettiest of body parts. They are sometimes used in art to cause disgust but all naturally born woman have them. Hairy vaginas are normal, hair actually keeps the vagina cleaner and fights off STD’S. But of course in modern society this is not cared about, there must be no hair or there will be no sex. But there is a lot worse things to have down there than hair, how about cocktail sticks? How much do you care about the hair now that you could impale yourself?

 

I have been visiting hairdressers begging for the hair that they throw away and they have surprisingly complied without much speculation. I have stuffed the tights with hair, much like I did for my 2nd year tights project but with a different filling. I love that the hair pokes through the tights and sticks out like hairy legs. I added a candle, a feminine object but a phallic shape, which gives sexual connotations of penetration in a hairy opening. My next step is to play about with the tights and how I want to place them for my final sculpture. There will be lots more to come including molding soap and very hairy legs so stay tuned.

Inspiration – Feminist Art

After playing about with tights, hair, and researching artists who work with hair, I got an idea. The tights looked like hairy legs which is seen as disgusting, but only for woman? I started looking into artists who work with the female form to question inequality and stereotypes in society.

Mandana Moghaddam uses the same medium as I have to create a sculpture of the female body draped in hair. The long hair represents gender and the idea of what beauty is. According to ancient Arabic ideals, hair should be long, thick, and a rich raven colour which is quite a lot to ask of woman.  This is true of woman all round the world as rich glossy hair is a sign of health and fertility but the extreme length of the hair in this sculpture shows just how unrealistic these expectations are.

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Lara Schnitger creates female forms in a textile fashion highlighting specific areas of interest of the female body. These areas could be sagging breasts, long legs etc. Although unusual, these sculptures still represent the female body by including these key body parts that may be the only thing that men notice about female bodies. The form of Schnitgers sculpture has inspired me for my own sculpture to help make it appear more feminine to the viewer.

 

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Fun Bags

 

Sarah Lucas was a big influence on my 2nd year tights project and has cropped up again this semester. She also uses tights and sexualises them in a crude but beautiful way. Lucas deals with the male objectification of the female body and instead of portraying the female sculptures as beautiful, she pokes fun at the stereotypes of femininity.

So for now I am not only working with hair, tights and the Grotesque but also the idea of equality. As tights and legs are at the forefront of my sculpture I will be asking why it is disgusting for woman to have hairy legs when our male counterparts can look like Chewbacca and no one will take a second glance. Having hair on our legs is natural, more natural than taking a razor to them, so why is there such a stigma? I wish to highlight this point in my sculpture, to create something that causes the viewer to feel disgust but then to question this feeling as after all, its only fair that men and woman are treated the same, isn’t it? Free the leg hair!

Inspiration – The Grotesque

Much of my inspiration for this semester came from the same artists I looked at for my 2nd year tights project including Louise Bourgeois and Hans Bellmer. However, I also wanted to look at some historical examples of the Grotesque to see where it all started. And where it all started, or at least one of the earliest examples, is the work of Hieronymus Bosch. His pieces depict sin and the moral failures of humanity through weird, wonderful and sometimes disgusting illustrations. As he was active in the 15th century, much of the imaginative and obscure imagery were very obscure for his time. Bosch uses dark humour to portray human or human-like creatures that are comical but also makes the viewer feel uneasy.

Louise Bourgeois takes the human body and hangs it like meat. I love the fabric she uses which does not look like skin but you can still feel a fleshy presence. I plan to use the idea of hanging the body in my own sculpture.

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Hans Bellmer mutilates the body to the point that it is still recognisable as human but is also alien. I hope with my sculpture to represent the body as Bellmer does so it is obvious it is human but is obscure and abnormal.

I was attracted to Eva Hesse’s work due to the material she uses. I again am using tights for this project but plan to stuff them with hair. I like that she plays about with weight and her sculptures still have very human and even sexual connotations.

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It was difficult, but I finally managed to find some artists who used hair in their work. I loved Robert Gober’s wax pieces of everyday objects that he has made repulsive by adding hair. He has now given the sculptures a human, living quality and this disgusts the viewer as people do not seem to like hair that is not attached to our bodies.

A second example of an artists who works with hair, as well as the Grotesque, is Jonathan Payne. He uses the idea of the uncanny to make sculptures that look familiar but also obscure. The sculptures are human and alien at the same time and are quite disturbing to look at because of this confusion.

 

All of the examples of the Grotesque I have looked at have one thing in common, they are representative of the human body. So long as we have bodies, we will experience body horror and this is why the Grotesque has been used in art from the 15th century and is still relevant today. The majority of things that ‘gross us out’ are tied to the fear of obtaining a virus or illness that would effect or change or own bodies. My aim is to create a sculpture that provokes repulsion using human hair, but I also want the viewer to question their disgust. We all have hair, it is no more alive when on our heads than it is when lying on the floor, so why are we so disgusted by it? Hair is actually pretty remarkable; its so strong that a whole head of hair can hold the weight of two elephants, and one strand can tell us about our family history due to the DNA it contains. I want the viewer to change their preconception of hair when they first see the sculpture to see that it is only human.