“UK based Australian hairdresser Shaun McGrath has
always erred on the side of quirkiness
and creative expression with his work in hairdressing. In this
way, he blurs the line between hairdressing and sculpture.
Working from his base in salon styling, Shaun has modified
his hairdressing skills to encompass his passion for this sort
of creative wiggery. The results have been epic, and have
recently created quite a stir in the worlds of fashion, art, and
of course, hair.
Shifting his focus from ‘cut and colour’, Shaun has created
wigs which use paper planes restyled to become a men’s
cut, feathers incorporated with hair to create the amazing
antler wig recently exhibited through The Wing Assignment
project, as well as other wigs he is currently developing.
He has also worked intricate watch pieces into flowing
blonde locks, in another wig safety pins have been sculpted
to create a classic bob. The pieces are completely wearable
and create a stunning effect in print and film as well.
Recently, Shaun’s work has been included in art exhibitions
at Red Bull Studios, Asylum Arts London, William Rd
Gallery, Stratford Circus, Aestheticism avant garde hair
show & Clothes Show Live (UK). He also enjoyed press in
Hairdressers Journal (UK), Hope St Magazine (UK), Gun L
Homme (Netherlands),Insititute Magazine (US), Bangstyle.
com (US), Shortlist magazine (UK) Hair Club Live (UK) to
name a few.
This created such a buzz that Shaun is stepping out of the
salon and looking for more opportunities to show his work
and create a more bespoke wig service for film, fashion,
performance or even for individuals with a penchant for the
Shaun’s wigs are very much part of his everyday salon life as
Creative Director of Willis B Salons,where the wigs are built.
Its a really interesting way to PR a hairdressing salon and
creates a great talking point for stylists and clients alike.”
How did you get into hairdressing?
After finishing school I drifted from job to job with no real direction, but had always worn my own hair pretty strangely and I thought hairdressing would really suit me.
I trained in hairdressing under Raw, Anthony Nader in Sydney Australia where I worked through from apprentice hairdresser to stylist. At Raw, a highly awarded and published media salon I was exposed to the editorial & catwalk side of hairdressing from day one. Personally I was always drawn into the avant garde, and as I’d style hair if quite often, add foreign objects into hair, these objects became more and more elaborate over the years until the objects themselves became the hair.
My formal training in wig making is zero, everything I know I made up 🙂
Where do you draw inspiration?
Hair, it’s shape, its behaviour is paramount and is how I am able to argue what I do is hairdressing and wiggery and not fall into the categories of millinery & fashion headwear. The process I use harkens back to my training in hairdressing. This link is sometimes obvious, and at other times it’s merely a suggestion in the finished piece.
Inspiration. I think it’s very important that aspiring hair artists do not confuse inspiration with influence, and instead use inspiration as part of the journey towards innovation.
Inspiration is a tricky one to nail down, (for example now I’m thinking about nails) it can come from anywhere at any moment, and possibly a moment ignored is possible inspiration (and opportunity) lost. Like many hairdressers, I’m looking at architecture and nature primarily, but it’s what happens in-between these two environments that is the real inspiration.
My first stage of inspiration is to find a single repeatable element and use that as if it’s a single hair. It’s then repeated thousands of times. The repetition of the element magnifies it’s beauty and aesthetic value. The second stage is to develop a complementary shape to generate the wig from.
What has been your most challenging wig to make, and why?
Definitely the Glazier wig
Made out of glass I had many challenges constructing it. The first of which was to manipulate and assemble the glass in to a hair inspired form. It was like creating a three dimensional stained glass window. Working with glass is something I had no experience in so there was a steep learning curve there. I had never even made a 2D stained glass window. The other challenge was related more to the structures weight as it was always threatening to pull its self apart or crush the base frame. It required a lot of reinforcement latticed throughout the interior.
I had many cuts and scratches and one very close call on a prominent vein, but all in all it was a very satisfying build.
Well Shaun, we are glad you will live to make another wig. See some of Shauns beautiful work below.
Photography: Phil Fisk
The Closure Wig was an extensive build and is my most recognisable work. It consists of 9000 safety pins and was built twice to redirect movement more like that of a heavy beveled bob ( in this case very heavy). Originally, Closure was built to be aesthetically pleasing and dramatic, which was successful, but the liquid like movement I discovered on the first shoot gave me the idea that “this could be so much better if the movement was consistent” so I deconstructed the original wig and planned the build with a new internal shape, designed to accentuate the movement I knew the wig had potential to create.
I achieved this by applying a bit of simple physics: by giving each row of pins the ability to pendulum freely on both their X & Y axis and balancing the lengths. The safety pins will move when the model moves. The rebuild was a huge success and I learnt that if I believe it can be better then it’s the right decision to start again.
Photography: Phil Fisk
I put pilot in my list of favorites because it is the piece I have spent longest with. Pilot took myself and a small team five months to build, most of which was preparation. Over 3 months was spent making 8000 paper aeroplanes measuring in at about half an inch and too small to fold with fingers. The finished piece took 2 months to construct.
AL&K Photography for Gun L Homme Magazine
I’ve included the glazier wig as it is by far the heaviest piece so far ( look for it to be out weighed in the coming months ), Glazier was a huge learning curve as I had to learn how to cut and manipulate glass without cutting or manipulating myself in the process. It also required a constant reinforcement to counteract the ever growing weight which was always threatening to pull it all apart. It was loosely inspired by hairstyles drawn in Japanese manga films. I found myself really worried for the model who wore it. Gun l homme magazine used it for an editorial shoot late last year, during the shoot I kept signaling to the model to check if she was ok, thinking if any of my wigs are going to damage someone this is it.
Shaun McGrath Wiggery has appeared in Hope St Magazine, Gun L Homme Magazine, Institute Magazine, Hairdressers Journal, Shortlist Magazine & numerous online bits and pieces.
Follow Shaun’s Instagram @shaunmmcgrath