Readers of this blog will know I like the big galleries and big exhibitions that the Big City has to offer. But occasionally London yields a few hidden gems, and the other day I uncovered two, thanks to tip-offs from two colleagues.
The first was Headism by Philip Levine, which was really intriguing. When Levine started to lose his hair in 2006, he began to use his head as a blank canvas, which he has decorated with all kinds of things, from safety pins to Swarovski crystals. The exhibition consisted of photographs and plaster casts of Levine’s own head, showing some of the designs. There was also a video exhibit which showed the process of creating some of the pieces, but also the reactions of the public to his decorated scalp. I found this one of the interesting angles of the exhibition; I found myself wondering what people would think if you wore some of the designs in the street, and the film showed a hint of their reactions.
The exhibition really got me thinking about the way we use our appearance to communicate something about ourselves. Usually, our hair is part of that – until it falls out. Despite losing his hair, Philip Levine has gone way beyond what would normally be possible with hair. It also challenged the way we normally view baldness; while it’s usually something we try to hide or ignore, Levine has seen it as an opportunity to show his creativity and personality, inviting reactions from the public rather than trying to avoid it.
In short, I loved it – a great little discovery down a bit of a back street.
Then, on the way there, another of my colleagues tipped me off about a Banksy on Clipstone Street, W1.
(Photo from Street Art London, and they’ve got lots more.)