By Amy Wall and Emily Furness
The National Maritime Museum in Falmouth has a major new temporary exhibition for 2017: Tattoo: British Tattoo Art Revealed.
The exhibition will be running from the 17th March 2017 to 7th January 2018.
The exhibition offers visitors a genuinely ground-breaking and comprehensive history of British tattooing, featuring cutting edge designers, leading academics and major private collectors to tell a story that challenges long-standing myths and pre-conceptions about tattooing when it comes to class, gender and age.
At the same time the display aims to give a voice to the astonishingly rich artistic heritage of tattooing as an art form in the UK.
Derryth Ridge, fellow Curator of the exhibition, said: “We feel this is a really important story that is an important part of our social history. I feel this is the perfect place to tell that story.
“One of the myths we are trying to bust through the exhibition is that tattooing is not gender or era specific and women have been tattooed throughout the years. I really like tattoos, sometimes its just because I like the look of them, sometimes its because of the meaning behind them.”
It is estimated that about one in five people in the UK have a tattoo. However, many still believe tattoos remain a taboo subject for many people. Whilst the visibility of tattooing in contemporary culture may feel like something new, tattoos and tattoo art have always held a significant place in Britain’s history.
The exhibition explores this rich history in depth and shows that while the word tattoo may have come into the English language following Captain Cook’s voyage, this was not the start of the story of British tattooing.
Fredrick, volunteer at the Maritime Museum, said: “I’m slightly biased because I have a tattoo myself, of a butterfly. I haven’t seen all of the exhibition yet but I think it’s excellent and it’s been really popular.”
While showcasing the heritage of tattoos, the exhibition also shows how people from all areas of society have tattooed using different technique. From ruffians to royalty; from sailors to socialites; from pilgrims to punks: tattoos have been etched into bodies throughout British history as a means of expressing both individual and group identity.
The exhibition provides a fantastic insight into a part of British history, which has had little coverage. To find out more follow #notjustforsailors or visit the National Maritime museum website for ticket prices.