BEARD at Somerset House: A Pogonophile Exhibition

This week Somerset House opens their latest exhibition in collaboration with photographer Brock Elbank.

Focusing on the world’s ever rising obsession with facial hair, the exhibition consists of over 80 striking portraits of pogonophiles, a project that began five years ago when Elbank partnered with Jimmy Niggles in a bid to raise awareness of melanoma.

Having just lost a friend to the disease, Niggles set up the charity Beard Season to spread the word of this preventable form of cancer and encourage people to go for regular check-ups, and it was his partnership with Elbank that sent the story viral.

Creating a sequence of portraits tagged #Project60, Elbank sought those with beards – including bearded lady Harnaam Kaur – and received over 1200 applications. Those selected travelled at their own expense from all over the world to Elbank’s UK home and images were shared through social media – with Niggles’ photograph receiving over half a million re-shares in four hours.

The exhibition features this life saving project along with new portraits shot specially for Somerset House. Featuring Sir John Hurt, Tim Howard, Andrew Galimini and Nick Wooster, Elbank said that shooting big names created a snowball effect thanks to their large social media followings.

At the end of the day though, he said, “It’s not really about the beard – it’s about the characters,” and this exhibition features a whole host of them.

BEARD is open at Somerset House from March 5-29 with free admission.

-Emma Grace Bailey

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