I’ve just spent a transformative fortnight with Mel Balkan: hairdresser, artist and all round livewire. This was the first intensive stint in an ongoing mentoring exchange around our expertise in hair, social change and art.
Social change hairdressing is more common internationally, but relatively new in Australia. Mel is one of the few hairdressers in Australia who is exploring this approach. Her and I both bring different skills to the table but we have the same passion and hunger to learn, and so this exchange has been incredible.
This intensive training with Mel has transformed my understanding of the craft of hairdressing from something quite formulaic to something more akin to sculpture. A week of one-on-one training was followed by us both attending a Sharon Blain Bootcamp in Perth which was an inspiring opportunity to learn alongside each other.
The exchange is ongoing. As well as booking in another training intensive, we are looking at ways to include a social change hairdressing experience in Arts & Edges, the Regional Arts Australia Summit in Kalgoorlie in October this year.
Photo: Ben Fox