Ruby Kiwinda is a creative of Kenyan-British heritage who specialises in film and production design. Her research and personal connection to African history combine to create content that celebrates the culture. Whilst studying she co-directed an award winning short film (the University of Brighton Film Festival, best non-narrative and best post-production).
After studying fashion communication for four years, I have noticed the lack of representation and under appreciation of my culture and our hairstyles. I am incredibly proud of these things and they are something I always aim to celebrate through my work. I have keen interests in art direction and production design and aim to combine the two to create powerful work that highlights areas of black culture that are not seen enough. I think now more than ever it is important to create work that educates others about cultures that are often overlooked.
The history of hair in Africa is so rich and the traditions are a huge inspiration of mine. Having had dreadlocks from a very young age and a very curly, kinky hair texture, finding the best way to care for my hair has always been a priority of mine. Because of the attention and care afro hair needs, a strong relationship is formed with it. From the moment I started researching the history of afro hairstyles, I understood this relationship on an even deeper level.
The lack of representation and misunderstanding of afro hair textures, styles and tradition in fashion and film is what led me to create the work I have and continues to inspire me. Because of the historic negativity surrounding African hair culture, I felt the responsibility to present all of the positivity, creativity and skill that is involved in black hair care and styling. Salons are the perfect place to witness all aspects of black hair culture and this is why I decided to create a film set in one.
Alongside beautiful detail shots of hair being styled which highlight the process, time and skill that goes into black hairstyling, my most recent film also uses production design to convey a message. I designed and created a realistic salon set and many of the props that can be seen within it. I created hair product bottles and pots and designed individual stickers which included a mixture of common micro-aggressions and quotes from figures who have spoken about the importance of respecting and presenting afro textured hair. The aim was to create the props that appear to have realistic packaging, however, the closer you look the more detail you notice. I hope that after watching my film, seeing the process of the hair style being created, and reading the quotes on the props people have a better understanding of what a positive view on afro hair should look like.