Past show: Selena Thompson’s Dark and Lovely untangled "the personal and political roots of beauty and race”

Between 2013-14 artist Selina Thompson explored the cultural and social debate surrounding black hair, and how it contributes to our understanding of black identity.

Supported by East Street Arts, Art Council England and Leeds Inspired, Selina rooted herself in the Chapeltown area of Leeds’ salons and beauty shops from August 2013 to ask the community directly about Afro hair: its politics, connotations and what it tells us about being Black, British and young in the UK.

Dark and Lovely opened from Saturday 15th February 2014 (for a week of performances), with an installation in the Union 105 gallery featuring a giant ‘tumble weave’ crafted from weaves and extensions (prominent in Afro hair styles), which hid a barber’s chair in the centre of the room. Visitors were encouraged to put their hands through the structure to feel various hidden textures.

The rest of the space was adorned with objects and mementos from Selina’s family home, bringing her own personal experience and context to the discussion. The complexities of this debate were dynamically explored using recorded conversations, music, written text and the ball of hair itself.

Over the course of 40 minutes, in a process described as “a little bit gross” Selina transformed the tumble weave into something beautiful and profound, transcending the weight of the connotations placed on it.

Becoming a national touring solo show Dark & Lovely was a marked success featuring locally on BBC Radio Leeds’ Breakfast Show and Look North, and gaining national recognition in the Guardian and the Independent.

Other things!