I curated the 100 Hands Project that forms the centrepiece of the exhibition Tattoo: British Tattoo Art Revealed. It opened at at the National Maritime Museum in Cornwall, in March 2017 until January 2018. It is now touring the UK.
For me, there is absolutely no denying that tattoos are art, that’s not a question up for debate. Of course, all tattoos are not created equal, some are “good” and some “bad”. Tattooing is another medium and tattoos can be analysed in a way that any other works of art can – watercolours, sculptures, sketches, oil paintings. This means that some are worthy of being housed in a museum. The problem is, of course, tattoos simply aren’t objects that can be put in a frame or housed in a cabinet. They are on the skin of living, breathing people, which means ordinarily they disappear from existence once the wearer’s life is over.
The 100 Hands Project is a way of representing the three-dimensional, living nature of the tattoo. I handpicked 100 of the best tattooists all working in the UK right now providing a snapshot of the work tattoo collectors are currently getting inked onto their skin, from black and grey and geometric to neo-traditional and colour realism. My selection includes the most respected, talented and popular artists. And they have each created an original design on a silicone arm.
Tattoos are so much more than just beautiful designs, they’re reminders of the unique stories that can be told on human skin. So, bringing an intimate and personal art form into a museum space gives the practice a new, institutional legitimacy and a special kind of accessibility, dispelling outdated misconceptions and showing just what is possible when artists put ink into skin.
Go to th-ink.co.uk to see a full list of exhibition artists