An exhibition drawing on the research interests of art historian Matt Lodder, Skin Digging focuses on female tattoo artists working in a male dominated industry.
Jessie Knight (1904 – 1992) was the first prominent female tattoo artist working in Britain. Part of a large family of counter culturists, she took over her father’s tattoo shop aged 18 and held her own with a mix of humour, poetry, ferocity and love. This exhibition presents Knight as an artist not just on skin but also on paper, where both her quick preparatory drawings and finished flash – the designs for tattoos – speak of the energy, skill and excitement of the little understood folk art of tattooing.
We also showcase the work of contemporary tattoo artist Claudia de Sabe, part of a generation of female artists who have been influential in leading tattooing into mainstream culture.
Curated by Dr Matt Lodder from the School of Philosophy and Art History, University of Essex, with the support of MA research student Ingrid Marvin. This exhibition was made possible through the kind collaboration of Neil Hopkin-Thomas and the National Maritime Museum, Cornwall.