THE history of tattoos and the journey from being a taboo subject to being widely accepted by society has been documented by an art exhibition.
‘Tattoo: British Tattoo Art Revealed’ was officially opened on Saturday, June 30 at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard.
The exhibition will be in place for more than six months, staying in place until January 6, 2019.
Tattoos have a long tradition with the Royal Navy, with the exhibition aims to provide a comprehensive history of British tattooing.
Rob Hall, 53 from Southport, says that he got his tattoos while he was in the Royal Navy – but faced some stigma after he left the navy.
He said: ‘The stigma around tattoos has definitely come a long way since I was in the Royal Navy.
‘I served from 1980 to 1996 and even as recent as that there were some difficulties.
‘I remember going to a nightclub in the 1980s and being refused entry just because I had tattoos on my arms.
‘Not everyone in the navy had tattoos – it was always a very personal thing.
‘Interestingly, as tattoos have become more widely accepted by society, the amount of sailors getting tattoos seems to have gone down.
‘I think the exhibition is great – and it’s really interesting to learn more about the history of things like the British sailor tattoos of the past.
‘I really like the show and it’s the first time I have seen anything like it, so it’s been good to learn more about it.’
The exhibition is the largest gathering of original tatttoo artwork ever assembled in the UK, with more than 400 artworks, photographs and historic artefacts.
Nigel Foster, 49 from Gosport, said: ‘I think the new exhibition is really good – it is really interesting to learn more about the naval side of it. I can’t say I’ve ever seen an exhibition like this before.
‘Both my wife and daughter have tattoos so they have found it really interesting to learn more about the history behind tattoos and what they mean.