Ali Barber

London photographer Richard Nicholson documents the East End's freshest haircuts


With an estimated 300 languages spoken in London’s East End, the area’s bevy of subcultures each make their mark on England’s bustling capital in different ways. While some East Asian residents create outrageously original styles by mixing traditional culture with modern London fashion, the finishing touch of a distinct haircut unites those in the know, who head to Ali’s Barber Shop.

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Inspired by the flashy styles typically sported by patrons of the Bethnal Green spot, renowned U.K. photographer Richard Nicholson set up a pop-up studio in the basement of the shop and spent six weeks documenting clients. The resulting collection of images represents both modern urban grooming culture and the current trends running through it. In addition to a book on the subject, the “Ali Barber” series is also now on view as a part of the Four Corners Gallery photo exhibit, My East End.

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Adding depth to the exhibit, Nicholson teamed up with artist, musician and designer Jerome Rebeiro (who also helped design the book) to create a soundscape using recordings of the shop, such as electric razors, scissors and general chatter between hairdressers Ali, Moshin, Vicky and Shehz.


My East End runs through 14 August 2010. Copies of “Ali Barber” sell from Blurb for $51.