Sunday, 19 October 2014

Excuse Me, There's a Gorilla at My Door

This is a stock image from a how-to lesson.

The past few months have been a blur of festival events, speaking engagements and committee meetings.  I am looking forward to returning to some more personal projects, including my tattoo research for More Than Skin Deep.  I didn't realize how much I missed it until I heard a loud banging at my apartment door.

It was before eight in the morning and I had been up until three a.m. with the 24-Hour Art Marathon.  I was still in bed but because it was my inside door and not the front doorbell I figured this was a big man with a passkey.  Better put something on and head him off at the pass.  Rearranging my caftan I discover two XL-sized plumbers who want access to the house basement and the water mains.  I let them in and set about making coffee.
I used to find pages like this left behind in classrooms.
You realize there's a lot of people out there who can draw.

However, the ink on one of the plumber's arms distracts me and I find myself hanging upside down trying to decipher the pattern that is peeking out beneath his t-shirt sleeve.  I would have been content if he just rolled up his sleeve but before I know it he has his shirt off.  This is what goes through my head.  "Look at the fade on the back, it starts there, goes to the chest and finishes on the shoulders. Fifteen-year spread of ink by the same mature artist, confident lines, looks like John Pinsent's work judging by the tapering of the lines but the drawing isn't his.  Who is it?"  I recognized the style as being similar to work I'd seen on a naval diver and a corrections officer.  It's very macho but tasteful.  The plumber confirms that it is Pinsent's work but the drawing is his own.  This guy has a major skull fetish going on.  It is draped like a well-placed shawl on his muscular frame, a network of flaming skulls.  He explains that he started drawing skulls in high school and as soon as he was old enough, my plumber started getting his drawings translated as tattoos.  It was as simple as that.  I've learned not to complicate some things.

Do you remember back in high school there was always at least one kid in the class covering every notebook with obsessive drawing?  They didn't have to hold special meaning or messages for someone else.  Rather, they were like a favourite song inside your head or touchstone in your pocket.  Ordinary, familiar and well loved.  Personal but not private.
I googled skull drawings by teenagers and found this one.

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