The National Museum of the Royal Navy’s newest exhibition celebrates the history of British tattooing.
Almost a fifth of the UK population, almost 12 million people, now have at least one tattoo. From tribal designs to inspirational quotes, traditional-style inkings to super-fan celebrity portraits – they are now more works of art than markings for sailors, criminals and outsiders, which is where they first began.
It’s this journey, from the roots of tattooing in the UK to its present day popularity, that’s explored in ‘Tattoo: British Tattoo Art Revealed’, a major exhibition opening at The National Museum of the Royal Navy, Portsmouth Historic Dockyard, on 30 June. Among several highlights of the exhibition is a chance to see the impressive ‘100 Hands’ project, curated by Alice Snape of Things and Ink magazine, which features 100 silicone arms each tattooed with an original design by top artists from across the UK.
The exhibition is on tour across the UK and while in Portsmouth, will include additional artefacts specifically highlighting the significance and traditions of tattoos within the Royal Navy. The National Museum of the Royal Navy is working with veterans to source first person stories from sailors about their own tattoos and visitors keen to add to, or start their own ink collection will even be able to do so with live tattooing available on selected dates during the exhibition.