I was walking home after visiting a couple of art exhibitions at the RWA museum and the Bristol Museum of Art and walking past the Eldon House pub noticed someone through the window with very striking tattoos. First I walked on then stopped and returned thinking I would step inside and accost the owner of the ink. But the pub was closed. But he saw me and came out to speak to me. I think he vaguely recognised me.
He is Colin Halton and is the chef at the pub, well known for its Sunday lunches in Clifton. Very quickly he told me that his freshly tattooed sleeve on his left arm was done by no other than Ben Boston, my tattooist! The work is Marquesan design from Polynesia. http://www.schoolsliaison.org.uk/bodydecoration/tattooing/marquesas.html
I didn't know Ben did this kind of work, so it was an eye opener for me.
He started this work when he was thirty, eight years ago. Down from his knees are done and part of his chest. He will get a full body suit all in Marquesan style. Most of his design is done by Marcelo Ramos in Sao Paulo in Brazil. Ben is likely to continue execute the designs.
Colin was inspired by his Dad who is heavily tattooed, done by the legendary Les Skuse. He works as a chef and rides bikes. He has partner Lisa Davenport, is covered in ink too, also by Ben. I will somehow have to catch up with her too.
He started getting his ears stretched when he was fifteen and used to have lots of facial piercings. Now there are just a few left.
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My mind is focussed on just one kind of extreme body modification - heavy tattooing. My body appearance has changed drastically in the past five years. But what are other people's body modifications of choice? One is a practice known as "tight lacing", in which the users of corsets embark on reducing their waist sizes to as small at 17 or 18 inches, if they can. It's not something that grabs me but Lacie here ( www.staylace.com ) has dedicated herself to the practice. There are others like her who take it very seriously. It's a fetish and not necessarily permanent. If you give up regularly wearing this special kind of corset then you will eventually revert to normal. I have no plans to embark on this myself, but before I pass any judgement must reflect that what I am doing to myself is even more extreme. The images here are truly eye catching. I have never knowingly met anyone who is into tight lacing yet there is a big community out there who do it.
The work in my groin and pubic area has been completed. Years ago Louis Molloy did the central figure in this picture but avoided going all the way. Now Ben has tattooed a circle of clouds all around the image that goes as far as it can without inking my genitalia. This completes the work on my torso. Added to that Ben has worked some hair detail on a much older art nouveau image originally tattooed in the nineties. Months ago Ben covered the black hair with brown. Today he gave the hair some texture. To mark the end of this phase Ben took some pictures of my whole body.
I went to the Newport, South Wales convention yesterday. Before getting there, I spent two and half hours with a face painter who gave me fake face and neck tattoos. It was painstaking but very pleasant and enjoyable. Sam Fisher, the face painter from Longwell in Bristol, did a wonderful job and the reaction I got at Newport was quite electric. All tattooists spotted the fakery immediately and most heavily tattooed people didn't take long either. But many were unsure. One way or another I caught the eye and it led to many conversations with those attending the convention. It was an opportunity to talk about face tattoos and how far people were willing to go. I was struck that a significant proportion of those there with some face tattoos were women. I'm not sure, but maybe more than half. One young woman I photographed, but unfortunately can't name check, has at her tender age advanced very far on neck and face. She said she may well take it furt