The Project

This article was previously published in Issue 19, ABSENCE (December 2018).


On the 27th May at about 8pm, I stood trembling before my bedroom mirror and cut off seven inches of my hair with kitchen scissors. My head now 80 grams lighter, I held the two short fat plaits, which sat soft and somehow fishlike in my still shaking hands. The act of slicing had been impulsively destructive, but it was ultimately an act of liberation. Something was released, and I sprang up and out from the torpor of those past couple of months into perhaps the most intense period of creativity I have ever experienced.

Over summer I would go forth to build an entire project centred around the plaits I had severed, reimagining them as holy relics, essentially transforming myself into a saint. I created a host of patterned books, boxes and paper bags in a sort of commemoration or encapsulation of my experiences, good and bad, my troubles and the turbulence of the past year. It was a gesture towards closure I suppose, preparing boxes in which to stow away pieces of my past self and move forward. I planned to eventually stage a ceremony, a sort of funerary enterrement of all the boxes, building cathedrals of sand up and around them, before eventually unburying them, thereby ‘unburying my head from the sand’. These reliquaries are all made from cardboard boxes that I had gathered in my room, since moving to London, so too were the bags into which I cut patterns, like windows, to be strung up surrounding the boxes. I made myself a crown out of jam tart cases to wear during the ceremony and intended to write an order of service and officiate the eventual ritual, marking the occasion properly.