2020
niall ashley

acrylic, oil stick, spray paint and screen print on canvas
138.0 x 162.0 cm

as young as I remember, the colourful box of a chemical relaxer sat in the bathroom of my childhood home. i always thought it was some magic process that my mother and sister had to keep doing to maintain 'normal' straight hair. the belief that there was 'normal' hair was kept alive to an impressionable, young me via popular British culture, television and toys which donned 'beautiful people' in long straight hair. this warped world sense promotes White European features as a beauty standard, unattainable without chemical procedure or wearing a weave to hide the luscious, natural, curly textures found in afro hair.

a hierarchy of colorism formed in my head, yet, ultimately, it was dismantled when I realised the beauty and normality in my head of hair. lanthionisation, which occurs in chemical relaxers, permanently straightens hair by breaking disulfide bonds and converting them into lanthionine bonds. i reclaim this word and insist on breaking the commercial bonds of straight hair and whiteness created by a Eurocentric society which perpetuates onto a Black or Mixed person's beauty and natural hair.