Shaun McGrath: Re-cycle Re-imagine
I recently had the pleasure of having a Skype conversation with all round hairdressing genius Shaun McGrath based in Australia. I’vw dmire hsi work for some time and I am fascinated by his seemingly endless ability to turn ‘waste’ into art as well as creating stunning hair pieces from all manner of things, including hair, recycled, ‘off the salon floor’ hair!
Here’s our interview, I hope you enjoy it!
This Pic, an awesome piece of wall art created by Shaun from discarded hair!
Q: Tell us about your involvement Sustainable Salons Australia how it came to be?
A few years ago now I met the founder of Sustainable Salons Australia and we both quickly saw the potential of us working together, we talked about it for along time before we finally gave it a title, I was to become Creative Ambassador of Sustainable Salons Australia. In this role I would basically make really really fun hairstyles out of recycled waste material that came out of Salons, hair, paper, metal, chemical really any byproduct of hairdressing salons. now as I was kind of doing this anyway it made a lot of sense to align Myself with Sustainable Salons Australia.
Q: What inspires you?
I believe that anything can inspire someone, it can be something dark, terrible, beautiful, some sort of call to action, it can be nature, failure, stress. Anything can inspire me it’s just finding the right way to observe it’ looking at it until you find an aesthetic that not everyone can see, that aesthetic doesn’t even need to be visual. Really opens up the creative possibilities doesn’t it.
Q: If you could banish one material/packaging forever what would it be and why?
We have all become so reliant on plastics it is definitely the number one problem with packaging globally, we can look at our own industry right now and see how much plastic is in your salon any other salon, any of the haircare brand – it’s all plastic. The problem is huge and it’s not something that’s going to go away any time soon, but if we all start thinking a little harder about our own choices with plastics and pressure manufacturers to change and to innovative, maybe one day we will be able to see an end to plastics.
Note from mrH: Shaun produces so many awesome images i’m trying to share as many as possible with you here.
Q: What differences are there between your recycle projects and a photo shoot for awards or more conventional shoots?
Every shoot, show, submission, stunt has a common theme, and that is for fun first, you need to enjoy what you are doing to get a result you are thrilled with, so in that way they are the same, but each come with a unique set of challenges. A single frame needs visual perfection in frame so I spend a lot of time on each and every part, a show need to work from a distance, I want everyone in that room to see what it is and what’s going on, a submission need months of planing and execution , and a stunt need to have maximum effect for a small amount of time
Q: What has been your favourite image created from other materials aside from hair to date?
Closure “the safety pin shoot” really was the image that put me where I am today. It was a wig that took a few months to complete and it contained 9000 safety pins. We set a lot of time aside to shoot this one. Day one was figuring out which room to use in the heritage building in Broadstairs on the Kent coast we had hired, mocking up the shot and lighting it correctly due to the reflectiveness of the material. We decide that the best room to use in this 4 story building was a tiny room on the top floor where the wall was falling apart. A skeleton crew stayed overnight to discuss the next days shoot over a good few bottles of wine and the next day (slightly hungover) we created that image.
Note from mrH: the image below (Closure) was my first taste of Shaun’s creativity
Q: How did the Nike wig come about?
I recently was commissioned by a shopping mall in Sydney to create an exhibition of 8 wigs. four wigs to be taken from a campaign with Sydney Fringe Festival which would run in conjunction with the exhibition, and four to be made specifically for the exhibition and I thought I’d love to make a wig out of shoes so we approached Nike who agreed to donate 10 pairs of
shoes for me to destroy which was both scary and fun, but I did it and that wig along with popcorn, lipsticks, and spoons became a month long exhibition during September.
Q: When you create a wig, how does the process begin and how long does it take.
Process begins in many ways, sometimes it begins with necessity because of the job I have or a deadline, sometimes it begins organically because I have an idea that I think is worth spending time on, sometimes they come from other wigs that have failed – they then sit in the studio and sometimes get analysed, then I begin to see maybe what they were meant to be. Time is a massive variable, preferably I have a lot of time to work on a piece and I try to work on things as far out as possible, because time at the end is so much better than time at the start, but having a family mean I need to find a balance and quite often that balance will be when my partner and kids are sleeping and I do find those small hours are great for creativity.
Q:How do you prepare hair that you gather from clients (and the salon floor) before you create something?
I often don’t, there is a wonderful variable as to how it hits the floor and just like working a hairstyle for session there is something to be said for it been a little bit dirty or even really dirty, it creates a texture you just don’t get from clean hair. It then shapes, contorts and tangles better. Happy days.
Q: If you hadn’t been a hairdresser what career path might you have taken
I spent some time many many years ago working as a bush regenerator that was something I really enjoyed, I was able to spend a lot of time just hanging out in nature. If I wasn’t a hairdresser I’d be doing that.
And a bush regenerator is some who takes back forested areas from the encroaching urban world, by removing weeds, garbage, and other things that don’t belong there and replant native flora in their place.
Q: What would you most like to create wig from. If money was available and time allowed what would be your most extravagant creation
Give me Rolex.
Note To Rolex from mrH : to quote Nike #justdoit
Q: Have you ever made anything other than ‘wigs’
A mess! I do have a wall piece I worked on earlier this year, I’ll send you a happy snap. (see image at top of post)
Q: Who in the hair world is exciting you at the moment
Emmanuel Esteban is f*****g brilliant (expletive bleeped out by mrH LOL)
Discover Emmanuel’s work here: https://www.emmanuelesteban.com
And there you have it, a maverick, a genius, a punk, an eco warrior, a true artist in every sense of the word. Thanks for sharing your words of wisdom, your stunning images and your story Shaun, it’s been great learning more about you.
And the man himself, here he is: