The Intimate Art Of Tattoo

Episodes

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2016100720180510 (R4)

Laurence Llewelyn Bowen considers the exponential rise in tattooing.

Laurence Llewelyn Bowen explores the exponential rise in tattooing across the UK.

In the first of a two-part series, Laurence Llewelyn Bowen considers the exponential rise in tattooing across the UK. With as many as 25% of the population now tattooed, he asks why we're acquiring permanent inkings.

While once the markers of transgression, of the exotic, of forbidden sexuality, Laurence looks at the many and various factors that are driving us to get tattooed now.

From commemorative images of deceased family members, to political scenes marking the centenary of the Easter Rising, our desire to permanently mark our bodies is striking. Laurence meets Lal Hardy who, over five decades as one of the UK's best tattoo artists, has watched the medium move from the backstreet parlour to the high street studio. "Human beings have always wanted to change the way they look, from the earliest beings to now," he says.

At the Great British Tattoo Show, people of all generations descend upon London's Alexandra Palace to meet some of the industry's top talent and plan their next tattoo, from watercolour portraits of their pets to dotwork renderings of Hollywood actors.

Dr Matt Lodder, a heavily tattooed lecturer in contemporary art at the University of Essex, describes the emergence of the British tattoo industry in the late 19th Century. Sutherland Macdonald, the first professional tattooist in London had an upper class clientele with an interest in the Orient.

But despite the tattoo's posh history, they still have the power to appal the middle classes. Social historian Kathryn Hughes makes no excuse for her fear of permanent inkings and the writer and broadcaster Bidisha discusses her regret at getting a full sleeve on her left arm.

Producer: Paul Smith
A Just Radio production for BBC Radio 4.

In the first of a two-part series, Laurence Llewelyn Bowen considers the exponential rise in tattooing across the UK. With as many as 25% of the population now tattooed, he asks why we're acquiring permanent inkings.

While once the markers of transgression, of the exotic, of forbidden sexuality, Laurence looks at the many and various factors that are driving us to get tattooed now.

From commemorative images of deceased family members, to political scenes marking the centenary of the Easter Rising, our desire to permanently mark our bodies is striking. Laurence meets Lal Hardy who, over five decades as one of the UK's best tattoo artists, has watched the medium move from the backstreet parlour to the high street studio. "Human beings have always wanted to change the way they look, from the earliest beings to now," he says.

At the Great British Tattoo Show, people of all generations descend upon London's Alexandra Palace to meet some of the industry's top talent and plan their next tattoo, from watercolour portraits of their pets to dotwork renderings of Hollywood actors.

Dr Matt Lodder, a heavily tattooed lecturer in contemporary art at the University of Essex, describes the emergence of the British tattoo industry in the late 19th Century. Sutherland Macdonald, the first professional tattooist in London had an upper class clientele with an interest in the Orient.

But despite the tattoo's posh history, they still have the power to appal the middle classes. Social historian Kathryn Hughes makes no excuse for her fear of permanent inkings and the writer and broadcaster Bidisha discusses her regret at getting a full sleeve on her left arm.

A Just Radio production for BBC Radio 4.

In the first of a two-part series, Laurence Llewelyn Bowen considers the exponential rise in tattooing across the UK. With as many as 25% of the population now tattooed, he asks why we're acquiring permanent inkings.

While once the markers of transgression, of the exotic, of forbidden sexuality, Laurence looks at the many and various factors that are driving us to get tattooed now.

From commemorative images of deceased family members, to political scenes marking the centenary of the Easter Rising, our desire to permanently mark our bodies is striking. Laurence meets Lal Hardy who, over five decades as one of the UK's best tattoo artists, has watched the medium move from the backstreet parlour to the high street studio. "Human beings have always wanted to change the way they look, from the earliest beings to now," he says.

At the Great British Tattoo Show, people of all generations descend upon London's Alexandra Palace to meet some of the industry's top talent and plan their next tattoo, from watercolour portraits of their pets to dotwork renderings of Hollywood actors.

Dr Matt Lodder, a heavily tattooed lecturer in contemporary art at the University of Essex, describes the emergence of the British tattoo industry in the late 19th Century. Sutherland Macdonald, the first professional tattooist in London had an upper class clientele with an interest in the Orient.

But despite the tattoo's posh history, they still have the power to appal the middle classes. Social historian Kathryn Hughes makes no excuse for her fear of permanent inkings and the writer and broadcaster Bidisha discusses her regret at getting a full sleeve on her left arm.

A Just Radio production for BBC Radio 4.

2016100720180510 (R4)

Laurence Llewelyn Bowen considers the exponential rise in tattooing.

Laurence Llewelyn Bowen explores the exponential rise in tattooing across the UK.

In the first of a two-part series, Laurence Llewelyn Bowen considers the exponential rise in tattooing across the UK. With as many as 25% of the population now tattooed, he asks why we're acquiring permanent inkings.

While once the markers of transgression, of the exotic, of forbidden sexuality, Laurence looks at the many and various factors that are driving us to get tattooed now.

From commemorative images of deceased family members, to political scenes marking the centenary of the Easter Rising, our desire to permanently mark our bodies is striking. Laurence meets Lal Hardy who, over five decades as one of the UK's best tattoo artists, has watched the medium move from the backstreet parlour to the high street studio. "Human beings have always wanted to change the way they look, from the earliest beings to now," he says.

At the Great British Tattoo Show, people of all generations descend upon London's Alexandra Palace to meet some of the industry's top talent and plan their next tattoo, from watercolour portraits of their pets to dotwork renderings of Hollywood actors.

Dr Matt Lodder, a heavily tattooed lecturer in contemporary art at the University of Essex, describes the emergence of the British tattoo industry in the late 19th Century. Sutherland Macdonald, the first professional tattooist in London had an upper class clientele with an interest in the Orient.

But despite the tattoo's posh history, they still have the power to appal the middle classes. Social historian Kathryn Hughes makes no excuse for her fear of permanent inkings and the writer and broadcaster Bidisha discusses her regret at getting a full sleeve on her left arm.

Producer: Paul Smith
A Just Radio production for BBC Radio 4.

2016101420180517 (R4)

Laurence Llewelyn Bowen considers the subjects that have formed the basis for tattoos.

Laurence Llewelyn Bowen explores the exponential rise in tattooing across the UK.

Laurence Llewelyn Bowen considers some of the subject matter that people across the UK are having tattooed on their bodies. He uncovers arm sleeve tributes to family members, vivid Japanese back pieces and dotwork renderings of Hollywood actors.

Matt Lodder, lecturer in contemporary art at the University of Essex, views tattooing as an artistic medium responding to the visual culture around it. "People want to have on their bodies the same things that they hang on their walls. Tattoo collectors feel willing and able to pick and choose from a wide spectrum of things - Japanese to graphic culture to traditional western tattooing to riffs on anthropological traditions from around the world. This variety characterises contemporary tattooing."

At Blythe House, the West London storage facility for the Wellcome Collection, he scrutinises the link between tattoos and criminality with Dr Gemma Angel, a research fellow at UCL's Institute of Advanced Studies. She shows him a collection of preserved tattooed human skins from 19th Century France.

Many people's extensive tattooing is concealed from the outer world. Ivan Carter is a project manager from Cambridge with a Japanese dragon adorning his back. We'll also join John, a senior city financier, finishing off his full body suit. "Some people I know were absolutely astonished when they discovered I was so fully tattooed as I am. Not everyone is fully approving. Not many people I work with will have visible tattoos. It's the tension between your outer world and inner world that's interesting."

And, finally, Laurence decides whether or not to join the ranks of the estimated quarter of the UK population with a permanent inking.

Producer: Paul Smith
A Just Radio production for BBC Radio 4.

2016101420180517 (R4)

Laurence Llewelyn Bowen considers the subjects that have formed the basis for tattoos.

Laurence Llewelyn Bowen explores the exponential rise in tattooing across the UK.

Laurence Llewelyn Bowen considers some of the subject matter that people across the UK are having tattooed on their bodies. He uncovers arm sleeve tributes to family members, vivid Japanese back pieces and dotwork renderings of Hollywood actors.

Matt Lodder, lecturer in contemporary art at the University of Essex, views tattooing as an artistic medium responding to the visual culture around it. "People want to have on their bodies the same things that they hang on their walls. Tattoo collectors feel willing and able to pick and choose from a wide spectrum of things - Japanese to graphic culture to traditional western tattooing to riffs on anthropological traditions from around the world. This variety characterises contemporary tattooing."

At Blythe House, the West London storage facility for the Wellcome Collection, he scrutinises the link between tattoos and criminality with Dr Gemma Angel, a research fellow at UCL's Institute of Advanced Studies. She shows him a collection of preserved tattooed human skins from 19th Century France.

Many people's extensive tattooing is concealed from the outer world. Ivan Carter is a project manager from Cambridge with a Japanese dragon adorning his back. We'll also join John, a senior city financier, finishing off his full body suit. "Some people I know were absolutely astonished when they discovered I was so fully tattooed as I am. Not everyone is fully approving. Not many people I work with will have visible tattoos. It's the tension between your outer world and inner world that's interesting."

And, finally, Laurence decides whether or not to join the ranks of the estimated quarter of the UK population with a permanent inking.

Producer: Paul Smith
A Just Radio production for BBC Radio 4.

Laurence Llewelyn Bowen considers some of the subject matter that people across the UK are having tattooed on their bodies. He uncovers arm sleeve tributes to family members, vivid Japanese back pieces and dotwork renderings of Hollywood actors.

Matt Lodder, lecturer in contemporary art at the University of Essex, views tattooing as an artistic medium responding to the visual culture around it. "People want to have on their bodies the same things that they hang on their walls. Tattoo collectors feel willing and able to pick and choose from a wide spectrum of things - Japanese to graphic culture to traditional western tattooing to riffs on anthropological traditions from around the world. This variety characterises contemporary tattooing."

At Blythe House, the West London storage facility for the Wellcome Collection, he scrutinises the link between tattoos and criminality with Dr Gemma Angel, a research fellow at UCL's Institute of Advanced Studies. She shows him a collection of preserved tattooed human skins from 19th Century France.

Many people's extensive tattooing is concealed from the outer world. Ivan Carter is a project manager from Cambridge with a Japanese dragon adorning his back. We'll also join John, a senior city financier, finishing off his full body suit. "Some people I know were absolutely astonished when they discovered I was so fully tattooed as I am. Not everyone is fully approving. Not many people I work with will have visible tattoos. It's the tension between your outer world and inner world that's interesting."

And, finally, Laurence decides whether or not to join the ranks of the estimated quarter of the UK population with a permanent inking.

Producer: Paul Smith

A Just Radio production for BBC Radio 4.

Laurence Llewelyn Bowen considers some of the subject matter that people across the UK are having tattooed on their bodies. He uncovers arm sleeve tributes to family members, vivid Japanese back pieces and dotwork renderings of Hollywood actors.

Matt Lodder, lecturer in contemporary art at the University of Essex, views tattooing as an artistic medium responding to the visual culture around it. "People want to have on their bodies the same things that they hang on their walls. Tattoo collectors feel willing and able to pick and choose from a wide spectrum of things - Japanese to graphic culture to traditional western tattooing to riffs on anthropological traditions from around the world. This variety characterises contemporary tattooing."

At Blythe House, the West London storage facility for the Wellcome Collection, he scrutinises the link between tattoos and criminality with Dr Gemma Angel, a research fellow at UCL's Institute of Advanced Studies. She shows him a collection of preserved tattooed human skins from 19th Century France.

Many people's extensive tattooing is concealed from the outer world. Ivan Carter is a project manager from Cambridge with a Japanese dragon adorning his back. We'll also join John, a senior city financier, finishing off his full body suit. "Some people I know were absolutely astonished when they discovered I was so fully tattooed as I am. Not everyone is fully approving. Not many people I work with will have visible tattoos. It's the tension between your outer world and inner world that's interesting."

And, finally, Laurence decides whether or not to join the ranks of the estimated quarter of the UK population with a permanent inking.

Producer: Paul Smith

A Just Radio production for BBC Radio 4.