#100hands NMMC

The 100 Hands Project, curated by our editor Alice Snape, forms the centrepiece of the exhibition Tattoo: British Tattoo Art Revealed at the National Maritime Museum in Cornwall, which runs until January 2018. Here Alice talks about the innovative installation and what it means for contemporary tattoo culture. 

It was the stunning work of tattoo artist Claudia de Sabe that made me fall in love with tattoos. From the moment, I discovered her work, I knew I wanted to be heavily tattooed. I wanted to turn my own body into a work of art, become a collector of delicate, beautiful work by an array of different artists. So, of course, Claudia was the first tattoo artist I put on my list when I was approached by National Maritime Museum Cornwall to curate the 100 Hands Projects.

Alice Snape 100 hands

Curator Alice Snape standing in front of the 100 Hands at NMMC

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 have 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.

100 HandsNMMC

“For my submission I simply tattooed something that I would love to tattoo in real life, for a customer,” said Claudia de Sabe, when I asked for her inspiration behind the piece she created – a stunning Japanese peony in purple and red. And the reason she wanted to be part of it? “There’s still a lot of misconceptions on tattooing and every exhibition can perhaps be of help in establishing a secure space for this art/craft within the artistic community. Ten years ago, an exhibition like this would have taken place maybe at a tattoo convention for three days, but not at a museum for this same length of time, which is incredible.”

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.

And now the exhibition has finally launched, seeing the arms come back together inside the museum is a spectacle to behold. After hundreds of painstaking hours, 100 blank arms are now works of art that have become part of tattoo history. No matter what the inspiration or motivation behind each piece, each work of art has become one to make an installation that  will have an impact on the future of this thriving, creative and magical industry.

100 hands

List of 100 contributing artists:

Louie Rivers, Travelling tattooist,  Exeter

Joe Carpenter, Five Keys Tattoo Studio, Norwich

Ricky Williams / The Family Business / London

Jo Harrison UN1TY / Modern Body Art, Shrewsbury / Birmingham

Caleb Kilby, Old Habits / Two Snakes, London / Hastings

Kate Mackay Gill, Private Studio, West Sussex

Jake Galleon, Studio XIII, Edinburgh

Paula Castle, Broadside, Swansea

Meg Langdale, The Burton Tattoo Collective, Leicester

Joanne Baker, Grizzly Art Collective, Coventry

Han Maude, Infinite Ink, Coventry

Antony Flemming, World of Tattoos, Ruislip Manor

Sophie Gibbons, Tommygun Tattoo, Plymouth

James “Woody” Woodford, 1770, Brighton

Pauly, Second City Tattoo, Birmingham

Dexter Kay, King of Hearts, London

Mike Stockings, Legacy Tattoo, Haverhill

Jondix, Seven Doors, London

Olivia Dawn, The Tattoo Company, Wilmslow

Matt Difa, Jolie Rouge, London

Kathryn Kirk, Addiction Tattoo & Piercing, Bangor, Northern Ireland

Tamara Lee, The Circle / Two Snakes, London / Hastings

Aaron Hewitt, Cult Classic Tattoo, Romford

Louis Molloy, Middleton Tattoo Studio, Manchester

Abbie Williams, Lost Time, Peterborough

Amy Savage, The Warren, Canterbury

Araceli Forever, Death’s Door, Brighton

Anrijs Straume, Bold as Brass Tattoo Company, Liverpool

Allan Graves, Haunted Tattoos, London

Neil Dransfield, Oddfellows Tattoo Collective, Leeds

Dominique Holmes, Black Lotus Studio, London

Chrissy Lee, Colchester Body Arts, Essex

Lucy O’Connell, Red Tattoo and Piercing, Leeds

Delphine Noiztoy, The Lacemakers Sweatshop, London

Gibbo, Oddfellows Tattoo Collective, Leeds

Sway, Sacred Electric Tattoo, Leeds

Harriet Rose Heath, Crooked Claw Tattoo, Sheffield

Little Andy, The Church Tattoo Studio, Birmingham

Lal Hardy, New Wave Tattoo, London

Dane Grannon, Creative Vandals, Hull

Hannah Keuls, Good Times, London

Akuma Shugi, Wolf & Dagger, Hove

Ché Crook, Level Crooks, Bristol

Miss Jo Black, Black Inc, Frome

Philip Yarnell, Skynyard Tattoos, Westcliff-on-Sea

Lucy Blue, Cobra Club, Leeds

Clare “Goldilox” Deen, Incandescence, Birmingham

Alex Candela, Black Market, Leicester

Matthew “Henbo” Henning, Redwood, Manchester

Jack Goks, Cloak and Dagger, London

Jelle Soos, Swansea Tattoo Company, Swansea

Matt Finch, Atelier Four Tattoo Studio, Truro

Dan Hague, La Familia, Newquay

Paul Hill, Vagabond, London

Dawnii Fantana, Painted Lady Tattoo Parlour, Birmingham

Kerry-Anne Richardson, Cock A Snook, Newcastle

Chris Jones, Physical Graffiti, Cardiff

Kat Abdy, Cloak and Dagger, London

Touka Voodoo, Divine Canvas, London

Rosie Evans, MVL Tattoo, Leeds

Joao Bosco, Parliament, London

Claudia de Sabe, Seven Doors, London

Emma Kierzek, Aurora Tattoo, Lancaster

Tacho Franch, Follow Your Dreams, Sheffield

Justin Burnout, Ghost House Collective, Derby

Mitchell Allenden, Dock Street Tattoos, Leeds

Lewis Parkin, Northside Tattooz, Newcastle

Mister Paterson, The Fifth Chamber, London

Charissa Gregson, Bath Street Tattoo Collective, Glasgow

Otto D’ambra, The White Elephant, London

Holly Ashby, House of Thieves Tattoo, Birmingham

Fidjit, Dharma Tattoo, London

Deryn Stephenson, Tenacious Tattoo, Sheffield

David Corden, Semper, Edinburgh

Sarah Whitehouse, Redwood Tattoo, Manchester

Fil, Broad Street Tattoo, Bath

Radu Rusu, Atelier Four Tattoo Studio, Truro

Ella Bell, Dust’n’Bones Tattoo, Plymouth

Ashley Luka, The Square Tattoo Studio, Solihull

Danielle Rose, Sanctuary Tattoo, Dundee

Matt Youl, Painted Lady Tattoo Parlour, Birmingham

Liam Sparkes, Old Habits Tattoo, London

Sadee Glover, Black Chalice Tattoo, Swindon

Jemma Jones, Sacred Electric Tattoo, Leeds

Gemma B, Black Ink Rebellion, Newquay

Kodie Smith, Edshead Tattoo Studio, Chelmsford

Billy Hay, Bath Street Tattoo Collective, Glasgow

Henry Big, Rain City Tattoo Collective, Manchester

Freddie Albrighton, Immortal ink, Chelmsford

Daryl Watson, Painted Lady Tattoo Parlour, Birmingham

John Anderton, Nemesis tattoo, Seaham

Hanumantra, UN1TY, Shrewsbury

Just Jen, Den of Iniquity, Edinburgh

Iain Sellar, The Black Lodge, Bristol

Olly Streeter, La Familia, Newquay

Cally-Jo, New Wave, London

Sophie Adamson, The Projects Tattoo, Plymouth

Loz Thomas, One By One, London

Kayley Henderson, Northside Tattooz, Newcastle

Tasha Pollendine, Physical GraffitiCardiff




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  1. Pingback: #100hands NMMC – Tattoos United

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