The Victorians were obsessed with hair, embellishing its symbolism to often fetishistic levels, and generating new commercial values. From the mid-nineteenth century onwards the codes and imagery associated with hairstyling grew in significance, reflecting the changing roles of women in society. Married women who let their hair flow out in public were frowned upon, this being normally reserved for the unwed, although they were allowed to let it out in mourning, to show their distressed state. The queen’s highly publicised widowhood, and the short life expectancy of the age, also created a vogue for jewellery and artefacts made from the hair of the loved and lost.
Today, the potency of hair, long apparent in myth, literature and legend, is probably most evident via the religious resonance it retains in many faiths and cultures; delineating traditional male-female roles or marking the symbolic changes (of style or concealment) a girl makes after marriage.
(2012) hair, canvas, wire, foam: 430 x 350 x 350 mm