There are currently eight collaborators committed to this project. Each collaborator will work closely with me, and each has chosen a tattoo theme. I will endeavour to make designs based on these themes to everyone’s satisfaction. Once the tattoos have been inked, the last stage of the project before the exhibition, will be for me to create a series of portraits of the participants, each displaying the bespoke tattoo that was the result of the collaboration. This post marks the start of a process that will show all aspects of the work, from start to finish. I will be announcing the participating gallery in the next few months, together with the date of the exhibition. The idea of the exhibition came about during conversations I had with Maciek Siudut from Poland, who asked me to design a tattoo for him. Three of the seven contributors are from Poland, and four from the UK. Hence the title: Skin/Skóra.

Maciek Siudut

Mateusz Tyburski

Bran Dearling

Nicky Arscott

Misz Ajdacki

Rosie Bowery

Phil Cooper


Nick Yarr

My friend Mathias van Soest in the Netherlands, a frequent visitor and commentator at the Artlog, has left a question in the comment box of this post that I think I would do well  to answer here, where everyone is sure to see it. Mathias has asked what I am quite sure many will be thinking.

Mathias: It sounds like a very nice idea, Clive, but could you explain why you need so many people for this project? What are they all doing? What are their contributions? Maybe there are specific problems when you design a tattoo? Anyway, good luck.

Clive: At the end of the project there will be an exhibition. For that I will need to have works on the walls, and in this case those works will be the seven designs, the seven portraits of the tattooed contributors, and the support material of preparatory drawings and collages. There will also be, of course, the photographs of the tattooing processes. This is what Maciek, Mateusz, Bran, Nicky, Misz, Rosie and Phil have agreed to contribute. They tell me about their lives and the ideas they have for their tattoos. One to one with me over a period of weeks, and maybe even months, each man and woman contributes an account of what he/she wants me to represent in the images that will be inked onto the skin, and the reasons for them. Their stories are complex, and the meanings underlying the designs intensely felt. The process of listening to them is moving and revelatory, and of course, intimate. The artworks are really just the physical evidence of the journeys we will all be taking together. I have never worked in this way before, and the people who are helping me have never done anything like this before. There have been lots of conversations. I had to be sure that all concerned were entering the project in the right spirit, and that the processes were fully understood and engaged with by them. The participants understand that intimate though those processes may be, everything will be seen and experienced by those who watch us online, and later, in the exhibition itself. It was not a project for everyone, but these brave seven are the ones who have elected to come on the journey. It’s their histories, their passions and their expressions of themselves that will be at the heart of this. They will tell the stories in their own words. I’m the listener and facilitator who will help them to realise their images into a reality.

There is a Pinterest board that will be the easy-access image archive for the Skin/Skóra project as it unfolds. Find it HERE.

15 thoughts on “Skin/Skóra

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  3. I find it almost impossible to explain (to myself most of all!) why I find this project so fascinating…..but I am agog to see it come to fruition….and it makes me feel kind of joyful….I think, perhaps, because it contains so much generosity on both sides (tattoo designer and tattoo-ee) and because it connects to the fraility and tenderness of the body alongside the strength and fierceness of creativity. Looking forward to the finished pieces I hope, with trepidation, to make my own drawn/painted response to these exciting ideas. Clive, as ever, you inspire us all at the Artlog! 🙂 x

    • And you, my sweet Shellie, inspire me, with your insights, openness, enthusiasms and generosity. I had a little parcel in the post today, the contents of which made my coffee come down my nose because I laughed so hard. You know whereof I speak!!!

      I’m so pleased that you’re stirred by what we’re doing here. I think it’s going to be quite a ride. Not easy… I’ve started the work and I can tell you that the whole thing is gruellingly difficult and emotionally draining… but yes, it’s heartening and moving and life affirming. It was not something I saw coming. It kind of sprang out at me and I thought, if I don’t do this I will regret it for the rest of my life.

      I think you’re right to be paranoid about Killer Gingerbread Zombies. They absolutely ARE out to get you. (They told me they were!)

  4. Thank you Clive. Very interesting to follow. Looking forward to “the making of…” Just pressed the “follow” button on Pinterest. I don’t think i would have a tattoo, but if so, I guess it would be the mockingbird or one of your angels, maybe a mockingbird-angel 🙂 What an honour and strange idea, that several people will have your artpieces on their bodies.

  5. Skin/Skóra is making me so curious that I have had to cease being a silent visitor to the Artlog. Your gift for intimacy, through the way you communicate and the nature of your art, is going to make this a truly intriguing collaboration. I applaud all involved and look forward to watching the project evolve.

  6. Fascinating. I imagine this will evolve even more so, and there might be a ‘happening’ (60’s speak) or rather live installation (noughties speak) in the gallery? In fact the whole project is a happening in itself. Very interesting.

  7. It sounds like a very nice project Clive, but could you explain why you need so many people for this project? What are they all doing, what is their contributies. Maybe there are specific problems when you design a tattoo? Anyway, good luck.

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