When I was a Hairbrush

For the ‘I am..’ communication pathway project I was told that for the next two weeks I was to take on the role of a Hairbrush.

To see as a hairbrush does

To do as a hairbrush does

To enjoy what a hairbrush enjoys

To fear what a hairbrush fears

and so on.

To begin to understand what it’s really like to be a hairbrush I started with seeing what a hairbrush sees.

Hairbrushes often live in our handbags or on our dressing tables so I took photographs from those perspectives.

From inside a bag, it’s dingy, dirty and dark. The images are quite empty, the only space filled by other objects within the bag, each similarly waiting to see the light of the bag opening and to be used by its owner.


The hairbrush who lives on the dressing table is surrounded by, what could be, hundreds of other cosmetic items, all playing a crucial role in our routine of getting ready.

This led me to my timed piece initial idea, an animation of a simple line-drawn hairbrush ‘family’. Each brush has a different form, purpose and character, who will educate the viewer on how to use their hairbrushes properly.

Unfortunately despite spending the good part of 2 days on it, I was only able to complete the first 24 seconds and character of my hairbrush family animation. It was my first time experimenting with animation and despite it being significantly shorter than I had planned, I was pleased with my outcome.

maisies animation

For the second week of the communication project, ‘You’re Talking To Me?’ I was told to send a message as a hairbrush.

I began with imagining how a hairbrush might send a message, what facilities and resources it has access to on a dressing table. I then began thinking about what it might be saying and who to.

My final outcome was a small instillation demonstrating the hairbrush’s story:

  1. The hairbrush has an abusive owner, one who throws it around, rips and pulls it through her hair, so it decides to attempt to escape.
  2. The hairbrush collects enough hair caught on its bristles to form a large ‘Rapunzel’ style plait.
  3. The hairbrush uses cut up text from a magazine and a receipt left on the dressing table to make a ‘help’ message.
  4. The message is then tied to the plait and lowered to the ground, in the hope that someone will find it, read it, and rescue the brush.

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