Sunday, June 19, 2011

Hurt is Hairy

A slightly longer post today as this story is about six years in the making. This is the story of how a piece I made six years ago ended up being photographed in the Sydney Morning Herald having inspired scenes in The Griffin Theatre Company's Heartbreak Hotel - a series of performances about relationship break-ups.
The Making of the Piece
Six years ago, I was living in creative and vibrant Berlin whilst going through my first proper break-up. I wasn't quite sure what to do. But I was in Berlin and facing returning home in a few months to commence a career in a conservative environment, so I pre-occupied myself with creative distractions. One of the very many things that I got up to was to get a hair cut. Nothing drastic but a trim to fix my unruly hair. I'll admit that throughout the haircut I willed every bit of hurt/pain/emotion in to the very tips of the hairs being snipped off. I wanted to be free of hurting, of being hurt.

I can't remember exactly what had given me the idea to make this piece. Around this time I'd just finished working at a film festival where one of the things I did was collage a series of boxes which were used to hold the votes of film attendees for their favourite films. I'd mosaiced the colourful boxes and can re-call feeling like a Pandora of sorts as I cris-crossed the city to deliver the various boxes to their home cinemas. Maybe "hurt" was one of those sorrows which I wanted to put back in Pandora's box...

I do remember that the hairdresser was not fazed by my request to keep my hair and proceeded to sweep and package it as if it was the most normal request. I'd found the clear plastic box on an earlier trip to Zurich which had been waiting for the perfect project and PVA glue was a prior purchase when I'd wanted to relive the childhood joys of peeling the glue off my fingers. I remember how easy the piece was to make, my thick coarse hair falling into place easily. One of the loopy bits happened naturally and it was easy to fashion the others to neaten off the ends.
Random shit, Chez!
The flipside of "Hurt" is something "True"...
I felt like I needed to show the piece to people. I brought it along to Art Basel where it was quite the conversation starter. I befriended an artist from New Zealand who made intricately embroidered art pieces using her own hair.

The middle

I shipped the box back home to Melbourne where for five years it languished at the bottom of my cupboard. I showed it to family, friends, a new boyfriend. Some thought it was cool, most however found it disturbing and advised that I throw it away. I always had a feeling that it was important that I hold on to the piece, even though I will admit that over the years I became more unnerved by the sight of it.

Things changed and I decided to shift pace so that I had the time to pursue my creative interests. I chose not to follow my then partner on his overseas adventures; I was going to have my own! For the first time in years, I was free. I changed jobs, started a website and in the same week even started presenting a segment on a community television program. Then one day I met Allie.

The Theatre

I was at the bar of one of my favourite restaurants when I struck up a conversation with the girls sitting next to me - beautifully-plated food facilitates that. Allie's friend mentioned an interesting project that Allie was starting in her work for the Griffin Theatre Company, the curation of one Museum of Broken Relationships. A collection of items, loaned by the public, to share stories of their relationship break-ups. Naturally I had to tell Allie about the hairy hurt.

A week or so later Allie sent me an email, telling me that she had told everyone at work about the hairy hurt and could I please loan it to them. A friend of mine happened to be driving up to Sydney so off it went! The theatre company published a piece about the hairy hurt in their newsletter, here it is below:
The Performances
I forgot about the hairy hurt until six months later I received an email telling me that the hairy hurt had inspired scenes in performances that the Griffin Theatre company was performing for ONE NIGHT ONLY!

I tried in vain to find friends in the state to cover the event for me. In hindsight it seems fitting that I went alone.
The performances were amazing. Attendees had to check in to the Heartbreak Hotel where we were each given a hotel room key and assigned a beautifully-uniformed bell-hop who escorted us to locations around the theatre where we were presented performances on different types of break-ups. Afterwards I mingled with the crowd and introduced myself as the owner of the hairy hurt, which was on display:
My Hurt Hair strung up for all to see!
I offered to take back the hairy hurt and my friend's piece which was also being displayed - to save the company the hassle of having to send back the pieces to us by mail. Kindly, it was suggested to me that I visit the evening's agony aunt who was counselling people on matters of heartbreak. I waited in line for 50 minutes before being kicked out of the session after the first question. Funnily enough, my answer to the question released something inside of me and I felt lighter. Leaving the theatre, I gifted the hairy hurt to one of the actors, Simon. Here's Simon with the piece:

create avatar
The moral of this random shit is to harness hurt to find the truth for yourself and enjoy the journey it takes you on. x


  1. This is a great story. It is amazing how things work out. Challenges create opportunities for us.
    I wrote about the guy who lied to me for 6 years. That experience of him lying was a great thing to happen as I am proud of what I've written. He actually gave me his hair when we met - and I believe I still have it?

  2. Incredible story Cheryl,enjoyable read. Didn't know about this story 'til now and I felt quite moved by it :)

  3. @Carly - thank you and great comment. I recall reading that great piece of yours and look forward to seeing what you do with his hair!? x

    @Inkovic - thank you Peter - really appreciate your comment:)

  4. SO great to hear this tale from you from start to finish! And what great pics of Simon with the hairy hurt.

    Thank you so much for taking part, and I'm so glad you enjoyed Heartbreak Hotel!

    Allie xx

  5. Hey Allie - great that you found the post! Thanks again for the opportunity to share the hairy hurt - what a journey!

    I'm so glad that it led me to the Griffin Theatre Company - such great work, I'm still so impressed with the peformances I saw that night at the Heartbreak Hotel - thank you all! x

  6. wow, that is an amazing story... and THAT'S why you speak German! I've noticed some of your German comments but never realised why you could speak it... ich war auch in Deutschland weil ich in der Uni in Bonn studierte!

  7. ah. such a perfect close. well done beautiful. x