From antiquity to modern times, scissors have remained irreplaceable and indispensable tools, universal to all cultures. Acting as an extension of the hand, scissors reflect an intimate human bond, their worn ‘bows’ (handles) bearing the imprint of the user. Scissors empower us, allowing us to perform a range of tasks, from the mundane to the extraordinary. At the same time they are silent witnesses to everyday lives and their scratched worn surfaces tell personal stories. To this day the manufacture of scissors requires great skill and painstaking precision to create a perfect cutting edge. Each pair of scissors is unique, demonstrating a perfect melding of form and function.
However, forgotten at the back of the drawer or the bottom of the sewing basket, more noticeable by their absence than their presence, it is only when we need scissors and fail to find them that they demand our full attention. As two individual blades, scissors are unremarkable; joined together they become a technological tour de force, with a double life, both creative and destructive, ambiguous objects surrounded by superstition, myth and symbolism.
The Secret Life of Scissors traces the path of scissors from their ‘craft’ production in the workshop where, motionless, they embody the skill and dexterity of the Sheffield craftsman, to their ‘consumption’, when they come to life in the hands of the user, creating narratives that constantly mirror the double-edged nature of this familiar yet mysterious object.