I go to the hairdresser quite often and whether I’m having a cut or colour, I’ll admit I’ve never really thought about the immense creative artistry it takes to handle someone’s hair, let alone the art of wiggery.
Earlier this week, I was fortunate enough to have the chance to chat with Shaun McGrath, internationally recognized Avant Garde hairdresser and wig designer. Having been in the industry for around 16 years,
Shaun is blurring the lines between hairdressing, art and sustainability with his work in couture wiggery.
“I can trace it back to the first sort of soiree I did in a hairdressing salon that I studied at and you know, from that point I knew my career was going to be a little unusual. I didn’t want it to be that classic cut, foils and a trim and some long layers. That wasn’t going to be me. If you want it yes, I’ll do it but it’s definitely not defining me as an artist. From very early on I knew I wanted it all to be different… and really different!”
As an ambassador for Sustainable Salons Australia, Shaun is well versed in the world of sustainability and has been incorporating recyclable materials in his headpieces since early in his career.
“I am definitely that sort of strange person you see when you are driving along or walking along that is sort of scouring through a skip bin at a demolished house. There is actually a piece somewhere in my history which is actually made out of pieces of a demolished house…I find it a very difficult to walk past an open skip bin and not have a very, very good look at what’s inside.”
When I asked him what materials he loves to work with, Shaun said that his favourite is recycled hair because it offers so many inspiring avenues and possibilities.
“Sustainability is something that is a really hot topic at the m
oment and we are so grateful that it is becoming that. You know you see big bins pop up in your retailers saying “bring your old clothes in”, we will recycle them for you. I think there are many, many more eyes on how things are done in manufacturing now as well and in practice. And your individual is caring about it now which is great…I think sustainability is definitely becoming a major thing as far as how things are manufactured, how they are supplied and how they’re executed for the customer as well. It’s all become really super important so it is a really great time to be a sustainable artist…It’s great for me and it’s great for the environment and the world we live in.”
Shaun is currently taking part in the Sydney Fringe Festival, a celebration of alternative arts and culture in and around Sydney. He has designed eight pieces of work to be showcased in an exhibition at Broadway Sydney and gave me a glimpse into what his design process is like.
“The process sort of happens in different ways, at different times and also for different reasons as well. We’re about to have a little exhibition at Broadway in Sydney which is attached to Sydney Fringe Festival. And the really cool thing about that was I was able to work around and look at an entire shopping centre full of items and say, okay what would I love to make something out of? There are things that are usually out of range that you just wouldn’t use because of the cost factor of putting it together. But seeing they were kind enough to give me the items, it was like ok, great! Let’s have some fun with it. And so, it was really great to be able to team up with them and do some of the impossible kinds of things”.
Shaun’s wigs and headpieces are no doubt inspiring works of art and with prevailing themes like sustainability, they are sending important messages to not only the fashion world but also to the public.
“It covers a whole stack of other things as well – your diversity, your art, all the things that make me really, really proud to be a Sydney-sider and in and around the inner west as well. I love a good bit of music and entertainment – I think that’s pretty important for people’s general wellbeing as well. A little bit of a party every so often and Sydney Fringe does a great job of throwing a hell of a party”.
You can see Shaun’s amazing work for the Fringe Festival at Broadway Sydney from the 1st of September. To top it off, Broadway Sydney isn’t only displaying Shaun’s wigs but are making it interactive with a photo booth pop-up every Thursday night and music mash machine. With all that fun, it is definitely worth checking out.
To find out more, check out the Broadway Sydney site.