Alexandra Palace holds some wonderful memories for me. Back in the eighties I learnt to dry ski on these historic slopes, and have spent many an afternoon soaking up the sunshine and enjoying what is arguably the best view of London. I even met my wife at Alley Pally at a concert in the Great Hall.
Back in the eighties, tattoos were the expression of tough blokes, strippers, jailbirds, football nuts, hells angels… and so on. Since the 1990s, tattoos have become a mainstream part of global and Western fashion, common among both sexes, to all economic classes, and now appeal to age groups ranging from teenagers to middle age and even to those in their twilight years. Inking has taken on a decidedly different meaning from those expressed in the eighties and the tattoo has undergone a dramatic redefinition, shifting from a form of deviance to an acceptable form of self-expression.
As an artist I wanted to witness for myself the relationship between the skin and body modification. What I saw from the devoted was ‘LOVE’… love for the medium, love for the canvas, love for artistic expression and a love for show-boating an identity that is a work in progress, stepping out of the box without the conditioning of peer pressure and society.
Inking is decisive and the skin is sacred. Many of the art forms expressed upon it or into it, have the quality of stained glass, tattoos transcend our material differences and fuse together culture, commodity, ownership. From neolithic man to modernity the need to mark the skin forges an identity.
The Great British Tattoo Show was an artistic buzzin’ orgy of flesh ‘n’ skin; jaw-droppping, eye-popping art for all.
By Stewart Phillippo