Nov 27 2008 By Frank Hurley
SKIN DEEP is a fascinating new exhibition on tattoos opening this month in The Tall Ship at Glasgow Harbour.
It's all about how Europe got the needle and fell in love with tattoos.
Tattoos were once exclusively the hallmark of European sailors returning from the south Pacific 200 years ago.
Now they are fashion statements for young and old. And more and more women are falling for designer "tats"
This touring exhibition comes from the The National Maritime Museum and opens on Saturday to run until May 17 next year.
Captain Cook's voyages to Tahiti first brought the word "tattoo", as we know it, to the English language.
Taking these Pacific voyages as its starting point, Skin Deep is a history of tattooing, tracing the history of tattooing through its use among seamen in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, to its status as a fashion accessory in society today.
Exclusive to Glasgow is the inclusion of a selection of memorabilia from local tattoo artists' private collections including photographs, drawings and historical objects.
Serena Stevenson's short film, "Moko - Art of Nature," depicts the story of a Maori man demonstrating his commitment to a living culture through the process of Maori facial tattoo. It will be shown throughout the exhibition.
The film charts the process from its origin and purpose to its effect on the recipient, the family group and the wider world.
The exhibition is divided into three sections. The first will focus on the European encounters with tattooing in the Pacific. It includes the first descriptions of it, the significance of the tattoo in Polynesian societies and the response of British sailors to different types of tattooing.
The second section will examine the way in which tattooing became popular among merchant seamen and Royal Navy sailors.
Then eventually with groups on the fringes of society, as well as sailors' traditions and commercial tattoos.
The final section will look at the tattoo as an increasingly acceptable fashion statement, and at the contemporary vigour of the Pacific tattoo traditions that first inspired Europeans more than two hundred years ago.
Normal admission prices apply.
Tattoos were once exclusively the hallmark of European sailor.