Garage Barbershop New exhibition at Blacktown Arts Centre

Thursday, 11 May 2017 – Saturday, 3 June 2017

In a modest garage in the heart of Blacktown, men come to have their hair cut, faded and shaved by self-taught barber Charles Lomu and his 5 apprentices. This humble space is not just somewhere to go and get a haircut; it is a hub where men can congregate and converse without feeling judged or out of place.

These encounters are captured in Garage Barbershop, a new exhibition at Blacktown Art Centre, produced in partnership with Parramatta-based Information and Cultural Exchange.

Garage Barbershop presents a series of photographic portraits by international fashion photographer Harold David that depict modern masculinity; and candid video interviews with men from Western Sydney. Charles and his young apprentices will also man a pop-up barbershop at Blacktown Arts Centre. As part of the project, Charles Lomu mentored a group of young men – dubbed the ‘Original 5’ – in barbering as a craft, a culture and a potential career.

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‘Over 10 weeks, we had the pleasure of witnessing 5 young men mature as they thrived on learning the art of barbering,’ said Mr Lomu. ‘This project recognises that manhood is not determined by age, but by a mature way of life. Our communities, now and in the future, can only benefit from the development of young men today.’

‘What Charles has built in his garage is so much more than a simple neighbourhood barbershop,’ said Councillor Stephen Bali, Mayor of Blacktown City. ‘Through this project, he has empowered his group of apprentices with entrepreneurial skills.’

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‘These young men have seized this opportunity, and the bond between Charles, the ‘Original 5’ and their community of customers has been brilliantly captured by accomplished fashion photographer Harold David.’

Large scale photographs depict the camaraderie between the men of Garage Barbershop, as well as moments of quiet tension, as they trace razor straight lines with blade to skin.

‘Charles and his boys are all larger than life characters,’ said Mr David. ‘I knew I had to take a back seat and do my job as they presented the most profound moments of my career.’

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Garage Barbershop will be at Blacktown Arts Centre from Thursday, 11 May 2017 – Saturday, 3 June 2017. Visitors can make an appointment for a cut, fade or shave by Charles Lomu and the ‘Original 5’ every Thursday during the exhibition. To book, go to garage-barbershop-cuts.eventbrite.com.au.

Blacktown Arts Centre is open Tuesday to Saturday from 10 am to 5 pm. Admission is free. More info here.