As previously mentioned on Nouvelle Noire, as a London resident - at least until my impending move south to Brighton in the coming weeks - making use of the wonderful, free exhibitions that occur all year round is something I'm hugely thankful for and aim to utilise. Most recently, I attended the 'Time: Tattoo Art Today' art exhibition at Somerset House. I've previously visited, and blogged about,  the Isabella Blow Fashion Galore exhibition held there, and following that when working as Press Assistant at Vivienne Westwood I was exposed to London Fashion Week which is held at Somerset House. When learning that there was an art exhibition based on a subject I've very interested it I knew that this was going to the reason for my next visit to  the beautiful building.

As a fan of body art, I was incredibly enthused to see the exhibition, which presents artwork from 70 of the world's most influential tattoo artists, including Ed Hardy, Rose Hardy and Ami James. All of the artwork shown in this intimate exhibition had been commissioned for this exhibition and saw the tattoo artists create pieces based on the theme of 'time', in any medium and on any canvas, apart from their usual surface: the skin.

 First and foremost, tattoo artists are just that: artists. This exhibition proves that, and the resulting collection of artwork ranges in medium, from oil to watercolour paintings, to traditional Japanese silk paintings and bronze sculptures. It was so interesting to see the tattoo styles, from traditional, old school and Japanese, transferred from the skin onto a different canvas. Each piece was beautiful and individual. It was also incredible to imagine how each artwork and style could also be translated onto a body.

The exhibition describes the reason behind why 'Time' was the theme for the exhibition.
"Time and all it infers (such as life and death) is a classic, common motif in tattoo art, expressed through a vast variety of iconographic combinations." Arguably, the most popular tattoo's of recent times that portray this theme of time in connection to life and death are the 'Day of The Dead' or Dia de Muertos tattoo's that celebrate the Mexican Festival praying to those who have passed. These are most commonly depicted as 'Day of the Dead' girls, or in sugar skulls. Other popular inkings relating to this theme are butterflies - noting the transition from caterpillar to caccoon to transformation as a butterfly - blossoms and the handled cross to signify life, whereas memento moris such as skulls denote death. Interestingly, many of this iconography is also present in the artwork displayed at the Time: Tattoo Art Today exhibition.

The exhibition is free, and is running until 5th October 2014. You can find out more about the exhibition here.

Coming up on Nouvelle Noire relating to this exhibition is a topical debate about tattoo artwork.

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