#Project60 – Beard Exhbiton @ Somerset House Review

In a white room,  in the South Wing of Somerset House sits the portraits of over 80 fetchingly bearded models from all walks of life. It started off as #Project60, a collaboration between acclaimed English photographer Mr. Elbank and Australian philanthropist, Jimmy Niggles, after the death of Niggles’ friend of skin cancer to promote awareness of the preventable disease and share his story.

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This collection, with some portraits exclusive to Somerset House, is stunningly shot to highlight the variety of beards of the internationally shot models. The subjects vary from models, farmers, an actor, a drag queen and even a woman.

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I saw Harnaam Kaur’s (above) portrait twice before realising that she was female, when reading her story this instantly became one of the most memorable portraits of the whole exhibition and was more than deserving of its own wall. In short, she is a young woman who suffers from polycystic Ovary Syndrome which causes excessive hair growth, however she has embraced after becoming Sikh which forbids her from cutting body hair. In a society that is very superficial, she is brave to broadcast this for a selfless cause.

There is an engaging element to the series as the portraits draw you in, each detail is clear to see: the gleam of mischief in Billy Huxley’s eyes, the hint of ginger is a black man’s beard, the youthful whimsy of Elbank’s children placed in a grid of portraits. Elbank experiments with colour richness to makes some features pop against the neutral background and it definitely pays off.

Overall, this is a stunning series about a serious subject that doesn’t take itself too serious. I would say go and see it, but I saw it on it’s last day; it is definitaley worth checking out some of the available portraits on Mr Elbank’s tumblr – mrelbank.tumblr.com

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Women’s History Month: 3 Films to Feed Your Feminism

(Originally written for Latitude Lookout March 2015 issue)

Feminist is a word that is often seen as detrimental and intimidating. It doesn’t have to be, there is a spectrum of feminism like any other movement and entertainment is an avenue that many (men and women) use as a platform to promote equality. Sometimes the political agenda is made clear, sometimes the message is more subtle. To celebrate this month of female role models, here are three suggestions of films with strong female characters and real life personalities (possibly role models}:

The Punk Singer

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Nothing says female empowerment for our generation than the Riot Grrrl movement of the 90s. The Punk Singer is an intimate look at Kathleen Hanna, lead singer of Bikini Kills, Le Tigre and Julie Ruin. The documentary is a time capsule of the political movement through the lens of the 90s punk scene. The Punk Singer and Kathleen Hanna is not for everyone, the movement is in-yer-face, blunt and loud music.

Clueless

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On the complete other end of the spectrum is the seemingly surface deep, high school comedy, Clueless. Written and directed by Amy Heckerling as a loose interpretation of Jane Austen’s Emma, this film holds a strong comedic female cast including Alicia Silverstone and Julie Brown and a sharp script full of historical female shout outs and culture-creating colloquialisms similar to predecessor Heathers (which is also worth watching if you love Mean Girls).

Alien

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One of Ridley Scott’s most popular films, Alien has one thing that many Sci-Fi and action movies of the time didn’t: a strong female lead. Ellen Ripley wasn’t the damsel in distress, nor the sidekick to a burly man. Sigourney Weaver’s portrayal is spellbinding as an intelligent, competent heroine that is able to take control.