Monday, August 23, 2010

Friends, memories and cornrows on canvas

I spent my last year of university on exchange in London. It was such a crazy time in my life, I was studying drama, (my acting career started and ended with my degree)  I was young, overwhelmed and had fallen hard for the delights and struggles of London town. (dancing all night at the uni bars, hot chips and curry sauce and the first ever season of pop idol)

Photo by Simon Howden

I can say that most of my entire year at university was a blur, I can barely remember doing any study at all. But all of my strongest and fondest memories revolve around three of my mates, Nai Nai, Sass Birmingham and Sars.

We were an odd bunch, a real United Colours of Benetton. Nai Nai, a no nonsense Caribbean diva from South London, Sass Birmingham, a high street fashionista with a fondness for extensions and coloured contacts and Sars, a super sweet and good christian girl from Pennsylvania.

If Nai Nai, Ms Birmingham, Sars and me were boys-this is what we'd look like (ish)

These girls were my best mates and we pretty much did everything together. Nai Nai and Sass Birmingham were tough English birds, while Sars and I were the awkward foreign exchange students.(good for an "in" with boys)

Nai Nai was really popular on campus, not only because of her "no you did-ent, mmhhhmm snap" straight up attitude, but for her incredible hair skills. When we would go out, Nai Nai would always be running late because she would be hooking boys with names like "black trick" up with a super fresh do.

I always insisted that she charge them for her time, but she'd always say, "don't worry girl, I'm not doing anything I don't like to do" with a wink.

Beckham should have got Nai Nai to do his hair- it would of looked tighter

Watching both Nai Nai and Sass Birmingham started my fascination with hair. Sars and I would sit idly on their beds and watch them fuss over packets of hair, hair glue, dyes... We'd have just brushed ours and felt mildly jealous when Nai Nai and Sass Birmingham emerged with miles and miles of new extensions piled up on their heads in some sort of intricate and funky style that Nai Nai had come up with.

One of my favourite things to do in London back then (actually even now) is to visit Brixton. The girls introduced me to the joys of getting your hair did there and riffling around in the many Afro Caribbean hair shops ( Me: "I think I need 'fro sheen" Them: "Ames you don't have a fro- we'll buy you a scrunchy.")

image by : luigi diamanti

I ended up getting a full head of braids when I went to Paris with Sass. The attractions of Paris took a back seat when I met an incredible looking French woman with braids half way down her back. I said to Sass that I wanted hair just like hers and so instead of visiting the Eiffel tower I sat in a salon for eight hours. 

Almost half a day later, I left the salon with a full head of braids, which included three packets of hair. I had really long hair already and my hair is really thick, so it felt like I was giving birth on my head. (I've never had a baby, but it was pretty damn painful) To make it even more heavy, I had shells stuck on the end of most of my braids, I was convinced I looked like Alicia Keys.

I did not look like Alicia

I kept the braids for around four months, when I got home to Brisbane it was pretty hard to maintain. (I did enjoy flicking randoms with my shells in clubs if they annoyed me) There wasn't many hairdressers at the time that offered extensions and braiding and the ones that did were really expensive.

When I eventually did have a friend undo my braids I rocked a crimped style kind of fro for a few days and got to finally use 'fro sheen.( I felt amazing- I now know I must have looked like a giant tool)

Since then, I've always had a soft spot for braiding and cornrows. And now I live in area in Sydney with an amazing salon that does my hair when I fancy rocking cornrows for cheap. It's pretty normal for me to get my hair did after work on Friday and pull it out on Sunday ready to be uber corporate on Monday.

Side cornrows is pretty much my regular weekend style and it takes my hair dresser all of 10 minutes to do now.

N Love's Amazing portrait of me (I wish I looked this good in full colour)

My beautiful friend N Love is a crazy talented artist who had her very first exhibition this year. I was incredibly blessed to have her paint a picture of me to feature in it. 

She finally gave it to me this weekend. It's an amazing painting and I was completely overwhelmed to see it for the first time. She calls me and the painting ghetto fresh and each time I look at it now it reminds me of my great mates Nai Nai, Sass Birmingham and Sars.

*uncredited photos sourced from google


  1. That's a gorgeous painting! And best of all it reminds you of your friends:D

  2. I come off so milk toast in comparison to Nai Nai and Sass Birmingham. You may need another blog post to do our relationship justice! That aside, these are great memories. Love to you, Nai Nai, and Sass Birmingham...even if I never called you that. Love, Sars ("Do I dance like that?")

  3. Sars!! Oh please you were never every milk toast-not with those amazing NSYNC moves. ( I didn't know what to nick name Sass actually- we never did give her a nickname) lots of love and I miss you

  4. AMY! I LOVE U! AND SARAH TOO! I miss the days of fun and frolics, hair, boys, gossip, rhul, dancing, secrets, drunkness, crying, laughing........the list can go on! xxx when I read this I felt sad because I miss it all and wish we were all still together, and happy too because we had so much fun and the memories here are life long! xxx


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