New UK tattoo exhibition gets under the skin of the industry

The Museum of London have just announced Tattoo London: an exhibition of original art, photography and film that will run from 29 January 2016 until 8 May 2016. Through a partnership with four of London’s most prominent tattoo artists and their studios, visitors to the exhibition will get under the skin of what it’s like to be one of the capital’s top artists and see bespoke London-inspired tattoo designs.

Tattoo London 4

The tattoo artists creating work for Tattoo London: Claudia de Sabe of Seven Doors Tattoo, Mo Coppoletta of The Family Business Tattoo, Lal Hardy of New Wave Tattoos, Alex Binnie of Into You Tattoo.

Lal Hardy at New Wave, Alex Binnie at Into You, Claudia de Sabe at Seven Doors and Mo Coppoletta at The Family Business have all opened the doors to their London-based studios. Each has created an original artwork inspired by their experience of London for the exhibition.

Tattooing in London has a long and surprising history, dating back to at least the early 17th century, long before Captain James Cook’s voyages to the Pacific. However, it wasn’t until the late 1880s that the first professional tattooist, Sutherland Macdonald, was making a living in the capital. Today you’ll find studios up and down London’s high streets, each offering their own individual styles with many having lengthy waiting lists for those wanting work by their favourite artist.

Tattoo London 3

Tattoo London’s launch event last week.

Jen Kavanagh, curator for Tattoo London at the Museum of London, said:

“This is an exciting exhibition for the Museum of London. The collaboration with these four artists has meant that the ever-growing culture of tattooing in London is better understood, and we’re so thrilled to have collected a little insight into their amazing working lives. Tattooing has come a long way since the 17th century and is now a major phenomenon among today’s Londoners. We hope that this exhibition will appeal to existing and new visitors to the museum, offering them a rare glimpse into the fascinating life of a tattooist in the capital.”

Tattoo London

Tattoo London exhibition opens 29 January.

Matt Lodder from the University of Essex, who is researching a book on London’s tattoo history, said:

“Tattooing has been an important part of London’s cultural and social fabric across several centuries; though its rich stories remain poorly understood by the uninitiated. The Museum of London’s exhibition brings together four key studios spanning four decades of work, and puts them into the contexts and chronology of the pioneers who came before them. It is a real pleasure for me as a historian of tattooing in London to have been able to help these four incredible artists to tell their stories as artists, and to place their ideas, their craft, their talents and their visual idiosyncrasies at the forefront of an exhibition in a way that has never been done in this city before.”

The display comprises both historic and contemporary photographs that will sit alongside the new commissions from the four artists. Oral history interviews and a new short film will reveal what it means to be a London-based tattoo artist.

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Tattoo London will be a free exhibition.

The museum is open daily 10am – 6pm and exhibitions are FREE to enter. Explore more on the Museum of London website.

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