Redux of Traditional Tattoo & World Culture Fest, Ireland
It was a tattoo love fest this past weekend at the Traditional Tattoo & World Culture Festival -- festival being the key word as Phil Cummins made it clear that he set out to organize a gathering that was far from the impersonal mega-conventions ubiquitous around the world. And he did so.
See over a hundred of Brian's photos here.
The fest felt like a cross between a family reunion and mini-Woodstock (or Glastonbury for my UK homies). Most tattooists worked in yurts surrounding the Marlogue Inn, and in adjoining fields, you found a big circus-like tent for bands and burlesque; a small group of vendors selling jewelry and clothing; and some convention-goers pitching their own tents to crash close-by after all the partying. Overlooking the fields, by the tree line, a suspension rig was hung for flesh-pulling fun.
Flowers adorned women's hair (mine with a skull barrette courtesy of Goldilox).
Shirtless kids ran around tattooing each other with marker pens.
Vegan yummies were sold just steps away from flaming burgers.
Booze, booze, booze.
And of course, there were drunken sing-a-longs around a Pan-like punk with an accordion.
Yup, it was pretty hippie.
But Brian and I dropped our Brooklyn badittudes, threw ourselves into the spirit of it all, and came outta the weekend smiling and (largely) unscathed.
I'm gonna break down my highlights below, but for full festival coverage, check my upcoming review for Total Tattoo magazine.
The festival stayed true to its "Traditional Tattoo & World Culture" label. Hand tattooing was ever-present, which was best considering the downpour on Saturday making electric tattooing in the main tent troublesome. In the smaller tattoo yurts, you had Durga from Indonesia (shown above) hand-tapping traditional Mentawai and Dayak Borneo tattoos. It was wonderful to watch and learn, and I'm grateful to him and Janti for letting me hang out.
Across from Durga's tent was Denmark's Colin Dale, who not only tattooed his signature hand-poked Nordic motifs, but also paid homage to Inuit skin sewing on one brave man who was gracious to allow a stream of convention goers come in and out of the tent to gawk in utter fascination. Yesterday, I posted Brian's video of the skin sewing here. Ya gotta see it.
As I mentioned, most machine work was in the main tattoo tent. Dotwork guru Xed Led Head got an early start on Friday night during the pre-party by continuing a facial tattoo collaboration with Matt Black on fellow blackwork artist Joe Munroe. [That work is the first image shown above.] Matt also got a few dots in the next day (shown below).
That pre-party was pretty lubricated, so in our feel-good state at 3AM, Brian had the idea to create a "Tattoo Cribs" video (ala MTV) featuring Matt and his monster suite--three times bigger than our musty micro-room. That video is coming up.
[**Actually, the pre-party for us really began on the flight over when we met Cammy of Metalurgey in Dundee, Scotland, and his beautiful girlfriend Katie on the plane. It appeared that we were grouped together and segregated from the other passengers, like in-flight detention for the tattooed. And that was just fine with us.**]
The nerve center of the fest was inside the Marlogue Inn's bar and restaurant, where I had a table for signing copies of my Black Tattoo Art book ... and playing Pippi
Also in our indoor space was the incomparable Pat Fish, the Queen of Celt, who surprisingly was the only one tattooing the native art of the Irish. Pat was a machine and didn't stop working the entire weekend, but we did find a moment to chat about tattoos, law and her most excellent mule.
The keynote speaker of the fest (shown right) was ManWoman, an artist who has devoted most of his life to reclaiming the swastika from its Nazi association and bringing it back to its ancient, peaceful origins. This reclamation was an overriding theme throughout the fest and "gentle swastika" tattoos adorned many bods there. I interviewed ManWoman for Total Tattoo and had a lot of questions on whether the symbol could ever shed the horrors that surround it. ManWoman had his own yurt where he sold his books and his "Smiley Swastika" tees.
Another huge highlight for me was finally meeting in person Dimitris of Hellenix Stixis and the gorgeous Clare Goldilox -- both of whom I've featured here for their hand-poked tattooing. Dimitris schooled me on the importance of learning the symbolism and history behind the motifs he extensively researches and then tattoos. And Goldilox, well, she did the wildest tattoo of the weekend: a hand-poked handprint butt tattoo. Ok, this tattoo needs its own paragraph ...
So, the I-will-never-anger-a-man-that-large head of security for the festival, Mick, and his lovely wife Christine approached Clare wanting the imprint of his hand on the right cheek of her behind. Next thing ya know, his hand is dipped in ink to make the stencil, a skirt is lifted, and the task of proper placement on the butt cheek begins ... oh, and with the couple's awesome teenage daughter standing by and offering guidance on whether it should be a little higher up and to the left. Claire spread out rugs on the floor of the restaurant, then had Christine lay upon them, and proceeded to hand-poke her butt.
Wait, it gets better ...
Once the outline was done, Phil's son Callan Cummins arrived to take part in the tattooing. Callan is Ireland's famed 8-year-old tattooist featured in mass media and even this documentary. The decision to have him tattoo went something as nonchalant as this:
"Mum, may I help Clare tattoo Christine's bum?"
"What did ya father say?"
"Ok, but do whatever Clare tells ya."
And this is what it looked like:
Callan was serious and tattooed like a pro.
Clare finished it up after a brief interruption by the cops (the bar/resto was not supposed to be open that late but something was worked out), and Christine was left smiling with her sexy new tush.
Then pints were poured. A drunkenly exuberant DJ played that funky music. And it seemed that every single person there was feelin' the love.
Ok, I've written too many words here, but the very best way to get the feel for the fest is to check out our Flickr photo set.
Share and enjoy.