Knowle West Mobile Tattoo Parlour on TV

Story and pictures by Sue Mackinnon

A Mobile Tattoo Parlour with a difference which hit the headlines on local television has been travelling around Knowle West taking photos and collecting stories – instead of using needles.

The tattoo parlour is run by arts charity Knowle West Media Centre (KWMC) working with digital digital agency Play Nicely and artists Stand & Stare – and is part of new project called ‘I Will Always Have You’.

Tattoo culture is very strong in Knowle West and dozens of local people came out of curiosity to the opening at Jarman’s Shops on Leinster Avenue this month.

They had their body art digitally collected and displayed on a website and told the stories behind the etchings. BBC Points West was there to record the moment and speak to the residents.

Joe Cooke (90) came to open the arts project and was the first to have his tattoos photographed. A former serviceman in the Second World War, he only started having them in his eighties.

He said: “I started to have them done after my wife died, and one arm is dedicated to her and my family. The other includes a lot of local pubs…:

The tattoo parlour has also travelled to The Park, Filwood Broadway and the Inns Court Centre over the past two weeks. From tigers and devils to butterflies and zombies – over 200 tattoos have been recorded so far. People who can’t visit the parlour can take ‘selfies’ and upload them to the website themselves.

Kerry Pollard (26) who had a Cleopatra on her arm said: “I just like Egyptian mythology… I had my first tattoo when I was 15 – they didn’t know my real age and they didn’t ask for ID. It’s on my stomach of stars and blossoms – and I’ve been having them ever since.”

Melissa Mean, Arts Producer at KWMC, said: “One in five adults in Britain now have a tattoo – by using our skin as a canvas we can become walking works of art.

“KWMC is looking forward to welcoming all sorts of people to the Mobile Parlour to share their experience of the creative act of tattooing. We’re scratching the surface of Knowle West and we’re excited about what we might find.”

The Mobile Tattoo Parlour is now at KWMC in Leinster Avenue where people are welcome to come and visit. To view the website or upload a picture of your tattoo and a story visit www.knowlewesttattoos.org.uk