Since the 1970s, the West Indian Barber & Beauty Supply Corporation at 860 Bathurst Street has served the needs of Toronto’s Black, Caribbean, and African communities with hard-to-find products and services that tailor to their unique needs. The facility is split up into a barber shop, a beauty salon, and a beauty supply store called Golden Beauty Supply.
Ehiko Odeh’s artistic practice has long focused on the beauty practices of the Black community, and the representation of melanated hair in the wider public. She has done much research for this subject matter at Golden Beauty Supply.
Upon her arrival in Canada to study at OCAD University, Ehiko grappled with the challenge of finding community as she commuted from Hamilton to Toronto. It was through braiding hair that she fostered connections in the city. Her work explores the idea that the attention Black people give to their hair can create moments of intimacy, vulnerability, and trust. Golden Beauty Supply has been an important part of that journey. Now that the landlord has put 860 Bathurst up for sale, Ehiko is called to honour this icon of the Canadian Black experience.
Part art gallery, part hair salon, Ehiko’s installation will be an abstracted version of Golden Beauty customer experience, with sculptural and painting interventions. Viewers and passers-by will be able to enjoy 1970s era beauty supplies and advertisements, sit in the salon chair, take a selfie and share on social media.
Ehiko will speak about ‘Golden Beauty Supply’ as part of the event ‘DesignTO Tours: Space & Sanctuary’ on Sunday, January 28. Click here to learn more and RSVP.