Tattoo: The story behind the photo

Derryth Ridge of National Maritime Museum Cornwall
Derryth Ridge of National Maritime Museum Cornwall

The marketing image for Tattoo: British Tattoo Art Revealed was inspired by an old photograph. Derryth Ridge, of National Maritime Museum Cornwall and creative lead on the exhibition, explains:

‘When I first started researching for the exhibition I came across a photograph of a member of the Bristol Tattoo Club revealing her tattoo.

It’s really thought provoking and I wonder if the sitter ever suspected it would become such an iconic image. I imagine the owner of the pair of legs must have been fearless: society wouldn’t have been as accepting of women being tattooed in the ’50s as they are now.

During the planning of the exhibition, we kept coming back to this image, and all that it represents. We came up with the idea of re-creating it for our marketing campaign, as a sort of homage but with a 21st century twist. 

We had already asked Matthew Houston to work with us to create a design for one of our silicone sculptures so it seemed natural that we ask him to undertake the commission – which he did brilliantly.

I love my tattoo and it’s a powerful way to commemorate the time I’ve spend working on the exhibition.’

See the original iconic photograph showing a member of the Bristol Tattoo Club revealing her tattoo c. 1950s in the exhibition Tattoo: British Tattoo Art Revealed which opens 17 March 2017.