The rise and rise of the beard: Facial hair gets its own Somerset House exhibition

Steve Dinneen
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Beards are big. Literally. You can’t walk down Kingsland Road without being tickled by the bristles of a hirsute gentleman. And now you can’t walk through the grand exhibition space of Somerset House without a beard to the retina.

Style photographer Mr Elbank has a new exhibition showcasing the magnificence of the beard, with dozens of portraits of waxed, dreadlocked, scruffy and chic examples of facial hair.

Billy Huxley

Ricki Hall

“Beards are undergoing such a resurgence this seemed like the ideal time to host this exhibition,” says Somerset House curator Stephen Doherty. “They’re tied up in the hipster phenomena, and I think there’s an element of rebelling against metrosexuality. That doesn’t mean you can’t be a dandy and wear a beard, though – Mr Elbank’s pictures show that beards come in all shapes and sizes, from slick little ones to great big bushy things.
“In his portraits we saw a perfectly self-contained exhibition, filled with striking images of interesting people. It’s a lot of fun.”

Stefan Bostrom

Brandon Baker

Miles Better

Mr Elbank isn’t the only person to chronicle the rise of the beard. London-based street photographer Jonathan Daniel Pryce – also known as GarconJon – snapped 100 beards in 100 days, then repeated the feat, collecting the 200 images in his book 100 Beards (
Beard at Somerset House begins 5 March. All images copyright Mr Elbank.

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