Ta Moko Tatau Tattoo Convention Redux
The Ta Moko Tatau Tattoo Convention came to an end Sunday night (or Monday morn if you count the after-party) and succeeded in its overriding goal: Kotahitanga, the Maori word for unity. It did so by bring Ta Moko practitioners together with Tatau masters (tufunga ta tatau) as well as tattooists from Europe and Australian working in a variety of styles under one roof -- the America's Cup Boat Sheds in Auckland, New Zealand, which also welcomed tattoo collectors from around the world including one very giddy redhead from Brooklyn.
See reasons for the giddiness in photos here from Day 1 & Day 2.
The weekend was a wonderfully overwhelming learning experience for me, meeting so many people for the first time and hearing their stories about their art and culture. I can go on for a hundred blog pages, but let me break it down to the highlights of the convention:
* On Friday the 13th, a welcome ceremony or Powhiri at Orakei Marae took place to kick off the weekend's show. As the convention celebrated the legacy of tufuga Paulo Sulu'ape, murdered ten years ago, a number of participants went to his grave site, led by his brother Sua Sulu'ape Petelo.
* Saturday, the first official day of the convention, the wonderful S. Mo'o took a break from his hand-tapping tatau and led me by the hand to introduce me to artists I "must meet."
I gotta admit it was a bit intimidating. I spoke to generations of tattoo masters, old school and new school, including Moko practitioners from Mark Kopua to Te Rangitu Netana, and Samoan tufunga from Petelo Sulu'ape to Pat Morrow (who is seen working here).
* Tricia Allen -- tattooist and anthropologist -- helped me with my Polynesian pronunciations and over breakfast, regaled me with stories of her amazing adventures from hitching rides to the islands on whaling vessels to listing the numerous tropical diseases she battled.
Buy her book Tattoo Traditions of Hawaii, the award-winning, definitive book on the subject.
* Sunday highlights are a tie between two most memorable moments for me. The first is watching a beautiful seven-year-old tattoo her father with complete confidence and grace for paparazzi like myself -- see above and Flickr for more photos -- at the Hammerhead tattoo booth. We may have been looking at the next Filip Leu.
* But I had paparazzi of my own as I stood above the crowd on the table of the Corazon Tattoo booth while Jacqueline Spoerle designed, and then tattooed, my tiny elf foot. Jacqueline is an amazing blackwork artist, also featured in my book, with a light hand and great sense of humor. I can't wait to travel to Switzerland for her to do the other, hopefully next year. And yes, foot tattoos hurt. A lot.
As for Sunday's after-party ... a blur.
Now, I'm gonna take my achy paw and rest up before a veeeerrryyy long flight to back to NYC.