Death & desire
Hair — neither dead nor alive
Hair is not quite dead, nor is it alive — perhaps that’s why we continue to be fascinated by it, as well as repulsed.
For many centuries and across cultures, hair has been charged with symbolic and sacred meaning. Victorian-era Europeans, including those who emigrated to New Zealand, gave it almost fetishistic value.
What stories does the hair in the Turnbull collections unlock?
The hair in the Turnbull collections has come to us by chance — found among personal documents, in a trunk of possessions, or folded in the pages of a letter or diary.
What stories does this hair unlock? Each curl or clipping was taken by, or given to a loved one: in such exchanges, hair embodies our most intimate stories of loss, memory and desire.