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Tools of The Trade’ features a diverse and colourful array of hairdressing tools, spanning from the 1920s to the 1990s.

Consisting of 42 photographs in total, the images provide a detailed look at the hairdressing world through the ages. While most of the tools are no longer used in present day hairdressing, they are all instantly recognisable and familiar. They evoke an element of nostalgia, and Mascolo hopes that the images will engage the viewer on this level, perhaps bringing forth “memories from when these were everyday objects rather than relics from a bygone era. They may bring to mind grandmothers’ or mothers’ dressing tables… first haircuts… or for some the beginnings of their own careers in hairdressing”.

Tools of the Trade curlers
“Hairdressing has such a rich history and as a modern craft it is constantly evolving and changing, as is the technology and tools that are used"
Georgina Mascolo
Tools of the Trade hairdryer
Tools of the Trade Burman clippers
Tools of the Trade metal straghteners
Tools of the Trade cut throat clippers
Tools of the Trade orange hairdryer
Tools of the Trade rollers
Tools of the Trade razor
Tools of the Trade combs

By casting a focus on these classic yet outdated tools, Mascolo highlights the enormous changes in the methods used in hairdressing over the past few decades. “Hairdressing has such a rich history and as a modern craft it is constantly evolving and changing, as is the technology and tools that are used”. The images can be seen as a tribute to hairdressing, and its role as a social and cultural institution. These objects, recognisable but now obsolete, replaced by upgraded versions many times over, have now become relics, historical artifacts.

Tools of the Trade wooden rollers

The simplicity of the shots, with the naive cartoonish colours and brightly lit objects, gives the images a retro quality. They could be interpreted as advertisements from the 40s and 50s, the time when most of the objects were in use. Mascolo cites this as a strong inspiration, along with “graphic design and pop art from the mid-century period. I looked at the bold colours and clean lines of the packaging for the objects, such as the distinctive Clipper boxes”.

Tools of the Trade crimpers

By removing the objects from their original context of a salon environment, it allows us to view them outside of their functional role. Through this, Mascolo explores another theme recurrent in her work – of revealing the strangeness and mystery in the every day, and encouraging people to look at familiar things in a different or unexpected light: “I wanted to bring an element of mystery or intrigue into the images and to make these very everyday objects seem strange, even sinister”.

It is certainly true that, out of context, the rusty iron curling tongs with blackened edges, and misshapen clipper blades, suddenly take on a more sinister edge – almost resembling mug shots of dangerous weapons.


Text Emma de Clercq
Images courtesy of Georgina Mascolo
After being photographed, the objects formed part of this hanging installation

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