The context for a blog series about hair came about following an outreach workshop delivered at The National Archives for Year 10 pupils from Acton High School. This particular group wanted something different from the national curriculum; they wanted to explore Caribbean and African collections to creatively inspire individual reinterpretations. Armed with the task of selecting material that would hopefully engage and stimulate discussions, I worked with archivist Etienne Joseph, (a previous recipient of The National Archives’ Education bursary scheme) to develop and facilitate a learning workshop. Taking the concept of haiku style poetry, the group produced a series of responses using iPads and shadow puppets to record their pieces online.
For the second half of the workshop I selected photographic records depicting various Ghanaian hairstyles worn in the 1900’s when Ghana was still under British colonial rule. One of the records was a portraiture featuring a woman from the ‘Gold Coast’ with a particularly striking hairstyle. A group discussion began to shape around themes such as identity, ‘natural’ beauty, adornment and gender. That discussion was our starting point for Hair.