LIFESTYLE

This Sikh Photography Exhibition Shows You Wimps How To Properly Pull Off A Beard

23/10/2014 10:55 BST | Updated 23/10/2014 10:59 BST

singh project

The beard: a fashion statement that has really come into its own of late, with disasters and successes.

Just take a walk in Shoreditch and you'll spy numerous men sporting facial hair, tattoos and buttoned up shirts (with obligatory garish print). It's a Hipster style staple.

But for some the beard is much more than a passing trend, it's a symbol of faith - and that's the exact message that new photography exhibition, The Singh Project hopes to spread.

The striking exhibition, which will soon be gracing the walls of Framers Gallery, presents 35 images showcasing the beauty and diversity of the two most ubiquitous symbols of Sikhism: the beard and turban.

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From kids to older men, doctors to magicians, the exhibition reflects the Sikh culture and heritage while being unique and universal.

Sikh photographers Amit and Naroop, who have curated the exhibition, hope that it appeals to British people from all walks of life. Not just Sikhs.

"We wanted the project to be unique and universal, something that people from any background would find interesting and which stylistically reflected our British upbringing," says Amit.

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The duo were inspired to create the exhibition after seeing an increase in bearded men across the 'trendier' parts of London including Dalston, Camden and Shoreditch.

This was shortly followed by major fashion campaigns starring male models fronting facial hair - and lots of it.

"It was obvious these men and the fashion brands were trying to make a statement, a statement about identity and individualism. The beard was being used as a symbol to stand out from the crowd," says Naroop.

"Within Sikhism, the beard is also used as a symbol of identity or of being unique. So we came up with an idea - why don’t we photograph British Sikh men and show how Sikh men have been wearing beards for centuries."

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So where does the turban come into all this? Turbans share equal importance for Sikhs, so the project expanded to explore the "diverse ways that the beard and turban were worn by British Sikh men".

In each photograph, each beard and turban is as different and unique as their owners. Every single subject carries the name Singh - Sanskrit for lion - which is given to all baptised male Sikhs.

"Our aim is to create awareness for the importance of identity. It is no longer a matter of conforming. This is the age of individualism," adds Amit.

"These British Sikh men, some of who in previous years were discriminated because of their beard and turban, have successfully spread into all corners of British society without sacrificing their identity."

The Singh Project

The Singh Project will be showcased at Framers Gallery W1 from the 3 - 15 November 2014.