Enchanted Garden, 2007
At the second year of this annual exhibition, I wanted to address the imbalance of diversity in the audience at the inaugural exhibition, where the vast majority of the audience were white. I wondered why more people of African origin had not attended in spite of the large amounts of people of African origin that make up the demographic of Peckham. The Nigerian presence was for me most visible through the array of hair salons, so I approached a local business and asked what the most distinctive hairstyle typical of their culture was and they said it was an Afro Kinky. 'I'll have one of those please'. I asked to have my hair cut in the garden at night in this open public space. It is common to see hair salons open in the darkness of morning and still there, styling hair into a thousand wonderful ways, long into the night. The troupe of hair stylists became the focus of my work and I became part of theirs, the two groups taking part in an exchange of ideas and skills, the audience too, became active participants in the discussion that ensued about art, about hair and about culture. The absurdity of the situation asked questions of what multiculturalism means, what separates us and what joins us, what boundaries exist between cultures and when do our identities merge? And are we outsiders by birth or by choice?