September 29, 2011
Evolutionary biologist Professor Mark Pagel will join us at the Glamour Factory, our late night at the National Portrait Gallery on October 7, to discuss our “love-hate relationship with hair” in a Vintage Drawing Class with Susan Wilson. Here he tells us about the strange uniqueness of the naked human condition, and asks: What is this fascination we have with hair?
A recent newspaper article in the Daily Mail claimed that women change their hairstyles about thirty times throughout their lives. More than one woman I put this figure to responded, “Only thirty?!”
What is this fascination we have with hair? To sharpen this question, it must be pointed out that we humans have a love-hate relationship with hair. In fact, out of all the mammals – the group of species we belong to – we are naked, having lost the hair that covers most mammals’ bodies! Think of your pet dog sheared of all its hair, save for a little bob on its head, and that ridiculous image you have in your mind is in fact what you look like.
Now, mammals are not distinguished for much, but they did evolve one very good thing, and that is their fur. In fact, so good is fur at providing warmth and shielding us from the sun that, having given up our fur, we now kill other animals so that we can wear theirs.
So, to understand our fascination with hair we need to look beyond our evident repugnance of hairiness itself. And here our old friend Darwin can help, because he realized that we use our hair in ways not so different from the ways that other animals use bright colours and feathers to attract members of the opposite sex.
But, still, why our hair, and not some other part of our bodies? And why so many different styles? Why are women seemingly far more pre-occupied with it than men, when in most other animals it is the males that are elaborately decorated? Come along to the Glamour Factory on October 7 to find out.
See more from Mark in his TED Talk on how language transformed humanity.
For a sneak peek at of our late night with Contemporary Vintage and The Broken Hearts at the National Portrait Gallery for our Glamour Factory late night on October 7, check out this clip from the BBC about the Glamour of the Gods, a celebration and exploration of the iconic, career-defining images of Hollywood film stars.
September 15, 2011
Our resident artist Evy Jokhova created two paintings for us inspired by the weekend’s program: planets, bacterial stencils, and giant land snails. Plus some rocket trajectories thrown in for good measure.
August 25, 2011
Part of the NPG’s Late Shift Extra series of events, Contemporary Vintage has brought us and The Broken Hearts on board to create a large-scale event to complement Glamour of the Gods, a celebration of Hollywood portraiture from the industry’s “Golden Age”, 1920 to 1960. From Greta Garbo and Clark Gable to Audrey Hepburn, James Dean and Marilyn Monroe, it is these portraits that transformed actors and actresses into international style icons.
On October 7, for one night only, the National Portrait Gallery will be transformed into the “NPG Film Studios”. Upon arrival, you will pick up your “NPG Studio” contract and enter the Glamour Factory. Visit the seven star-making departments to be transformed into a Hollywood icon.
* Free tickets will be required for some activities and will be available in advance – please check regularly on the NPG website for updates.
Dress Code: Black and White
Full program for the night can be seen on the NPG’s website here.
With Vintage Visage makeovers by Illamasqua, Strike a Pose classes in finding the perfect angle with Anna Berlyn in the NPG Photography Studio, and a night of live music and dance in the Broken Hearts Cocktail Lounge, Contemporary Vintage is bringing their unique twist, moving beyond the traditional content of the exhibition to explore how the themes resonate today. Unexpected angles will be explored, mixing art with science and mainstream culture with the underground.
Guerilla Science is joining the cultural fray, and invite you to put glamour under the microscope and look behind-the-scenes to uncover how the Golden Age of Hollywood was manufactured and how image continues to be manipulated today.
We will bring scientific concepts into this cultural cornucopia, including explorations of the science behind facial recognition, identity, and gender to departments 1, 4 and 6.
Department 1: IMAGE IS EVERYTHING
What is Beauty?
18.00 – 18.45, 19.00 – 19.45 & 20.00 – 20.45
Drop in to meet Danny Rees from the Wellcome Library and explore physiognomy. Is there any truth to the symmetrical ideals of beauty?
Vintage Drawing Class
18.30 – 19.15 & 19.45 – 20.30
Turn heads in this stylish drawing class. Introduced by Nina and Issidora of Nina’s Hair Parlour; drawing led by Susan Wilson with a discussion led by Professor Mark Pagel.
Is Gender an Illusion?
19.15 – 19.45 & 20.15 – 20.45
Clinical psychologists Dr Polly Carmichael and Dr Victoria Holt explore notions of identity and unpick the confusion of chromosomes.
Department 4: IMMORTAL DREAMS
19.15 – 19.45 & 20.15 – 20.45
Join this specially created tour exploring notions of life, death and immortality with Dr David Gems (Institute of Healthy Aging, UCL) as he explores the Gallery from a scientific angle.
Department 6: POWER DRESSING
The Glamorous Debate
19.00 – 19.45
Is glamour really in the eye of the beholder? Our glittering array of experts explore the power of fashion. Chaired by Pamela Church-Gibson (Reader in Cultural and Historical Studies, London College of Fashion,) with panellists Ted Polhemus (anthropologist and writer), Grace Woodward (stylist and fashion broadcaster) and Semir Zeki (Professor of Neuroaesthetics, UCL) and Janty Yates, Academy Award-Winning costume designer, Gladiator.
* Free tickets required, please see website nearer the time for details.