Sunday, 31 August 2014

Time: Tattoo Art Today at Somerset House

Ever coveted the distinctive style and look of a tattoo but not a fan of needles - or just plain run out of bare skin? Then head on over to Somerset House where the Embankment Gallery is host to a fascinating exhibition of original artworks by legendary tattoo artists from around the world.  
Featured artists include painter, printmaker and publisher Don Ed Hardy, L.A. graffiti and tattoo maestro to the stars Mister Cartoon, Irezume master Horiyoshi III and Ami James, co-founder of the Tattoodo website and owner of Miami Ink's famous Love Hate Tattoo studio. Admission is free and all works in the exhibition are on sale to the public.

Artists were told they could use any medium and canvas - except skin - and given a broad theme of 'time'. Intelligently curated by tattoo artist Claudia de Sabe and publisher Miki Vialetto, the original artworks range from Japanese silk painting and bronze sculpture to painted skulls and inked dolls. 

Classic tattoo motifs of life and death including ankhs, butterflies, flowers and memento mori such as skulls are represented throughout the exhibition, alongside imagery from other art forms. Pieces include the Grim Reaper with hooded robe and scythe, Hungarian countess Elizabeth Bathory who bathed in the blood of virgins to preserve her youth and a luminous beauty garlanded with roses illustrating the inevitable cycle of birth to death.

 There are also some thought-provoking portraits and some more light-hearted approaches to the theme. In the latter category, I particularly liked two pieces based on classic Japanese imagery: one with the hero, complete with t-shirt and rucksack, looking glumly at a map on his phone and the other showing an eel bandaged and bleeding, with a cartoon clock giving it the finger. The title? 'Time wounds all eels.'  

The exhibition runs until 5th October and is open daily from 10am to 6pm (last entry 5.30pm) with late night until 9pm some nights - check the website for details. Oh, and grab a free programme - it unfolds into a poster

Yours, thinking about inking,                                                             Girl About Town xx

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