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09 July 2014

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Blood on the Streets in Nottingham

Our Administrator Steve invites us into the world of blood letting with a truly unique trip to the hairdressers.  Photo by Lamar Francois.

As someone who’s always been ridiculously squeamish when it comes to anything involving blood, it can sometimes be a bit tricky being the partner of a performance artist whose main source of material is his own blood. And when said performance artist is Jamie Lewis Hadley, who’s current project, the aptly titled Blood on the Streets, involves live phlebotomy and an in-depth lecture on the history of blood letting, it’s safe to say that I was in equal parts excited and nervous to take in the first performance.

However, just over a week ago on a sunny evening in Nottingham, I did just that.

The idea behind Blood on the Streets is to provide the general public with an informative and visually engaging 30 minute performance lecture on the history of the barber surgeon and their previous involvement in and subsequent separation from the act of blood-letting as a means of curing common ailments. Now what makes Blood on the Streets that little bit different from your average performance lecture to the usual ‘white space’ art crowd is that it takes place in the windows of a number of modern day barber shops up and down the UK, making it instantly accessible to literally the ‘people on the street’.

At 7:45pm one warm, Friday evening on a cobbled walk-way in Nottingham, I waited anxiously outside the vibrant 28 Barbers for the debut performance to start.  Camcorder in (shaky) hand, a large medical curtain pulled across the window to obstruct the audiences’ view and guard the aesthetics of the piece before the big reveal, the crowds began to gather.

As the local church bells chimed in the count of 8 o’clock, the curtain was pulled back and the performance began...

Now, if I were to sit here and go into detail about the lecture, the intriguing use of props, the fascinated passers by, the lovely Dr Belinda Fenty, the leeches (sort of) and of course, the blood, then I’d be giving away what makes this groundbreaking piece of performance art so appealing.

So instead, I would advise anyone who enjoys the extraordinary, the thought-provoking and the little bit gory to go check out a performance for yourself...coming soon to a barbers near you.

Photo by Lamar Francois

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