TATTOO: British Tattoo Art Revealed
Our exciting new temporary exhibition for Spring 2020 offers a ground-breaking insight into the history of British tattooing. Featuring over 400 original artworks, photographs and historic artefacts, it tells a story that challenges the most deeply-held myths and pre-conceptions about tattooing.
From ruffians to royalty; from sailors to socialites; from pilgrims to punks: tattoos have been etched into bodies throughout British history. Displaying the work of major tattoo artists, including George Burchett, via the Bristol Tattoo Club, Alex Binnie and Lal Hardy, the exhibition showcases the largest gathering of real objects and original tattoo artwork ever assembled in the UK.
Cutting edge designers, leading academics and major private collectors have all come together to tell a story that challenges long-standing myths and preconceptions. The exhibition features items from three of the most important private collections of tattoo material in Britain – belonging to Paul ‘Rambo’ Ramsbottom, Willie Robinson, and Jimmie Skuse.
Delving into previously unseen private archives that reveal hidden histories, the exhibition includes the incredible story of Britain’s pioneering female tattoo artist, Jessie Knight, who was mentored by the world-famous, Chatham-based, Charlie Bell.
Tattoos are a living and uniquely three dimensional form of art. The exhibition responds to this by commissioning an innovative installation which literally brings the art off the gallery wall to create a ‘sculptural map’ of British tattoo art today. The ‘100 Hands’, curated by Alice Snape of ‘Things and Ink’ magazine, is based around one hundred silicone arms, each tattooed with an original design by 100 of the leading tattoo artists working across the UK.
Tattoo: British Tattoo Art Revealed has been curated by Dr Matt Lodder, lecturer in Contemporary Art History and Director of American Studies at the University of Essex, supported by co-curators Stuart Slade and Derryth Ridge of National Maritime Museum Cornwall.