Korantema Anyimadu is an independent researcher, creator and curator behind this year's Black Hair and Heritage project. The project explores cultural identity, history and experiences all tied up in hair. We caught up with Korantema to find out more about her project and the upcoming event, The Salon.
Where did the idea for Black Hair and Heritage come from?
I wrote my dissertation on black women, hair and heritage back in 2016 when I was studying for my MA in Cultural Heritage. After interviewing lots of women for my research, I was inspired to curate an exhibition exploring black women's relationship with their hair. The exhibition was held at Locus of Walthamstow and in Walthamstow Library. I've always been inspired by the intricate nature of hair, and how much focus it has in African and Caribbean cultures. It's something that is tightly intertwined with creativity, identity, family and race and I wanted to create a project that unpicked some of that - I think that has often gone unrecognised.
The first part of your project focuses on inter-generational workshops. Why is it important to mix younger women with those over 65?
I think all too often, older and younger women are separated in society, and sometimes even pitted against each other. I really wanted to create a space where generations of people could share stories, learn from each other and have the opportunity to explore their creativity together. I'm working with a local artist called Kim Myers, as I think it's extra special being able to keep it focused on Waltham Forest.
You’ve done a previous project which features in the migration museum. What sort of stories did you uncover?
My previous project highlighted the stories of different women and femmes alongside portraits which were shot by Nana Owusu Ansah. The stories were so varied! One young athlete talked to me about her Hijab and how her love of sports is connected to the sanctity of her hair, and how she presents herself when she's playing sport. A drag queen (the amazing Son of a Tutu) told me about rejecting straight haired wigs in performances and embracing afro wigs instead. Dawn Butler who is the MP for Brent talked about the peace she felt when she stopped using chemicals on her hair and turned to dreadlocks. Some of their photos were in the Migration Museum until the end of the summer.
You project ends with ‘The Salon’, which bit are you most looking forward to?
The Salon is going to be a combination of performances and talks centred around black women and hair. I think I'm most looking forward to the conversations that will come from the evening - you never know the kind of discussions that come up when you bring people from all walks of life together.
Black Hair and Heritage finishes Thursday 26 September with The Salon.