The weekend of the 22nd / 23rd of October saw the first Cardiff tattoo convention organized by the guys at Silverhand jewellery. The venue was the old coal exchange in Cardiff bay and the idea was to have something a bit different to just the normal convention format. To this end they decided to call the show Tattoo Art Vs Street Art and as well as have all the things you find at conventions plus the added bonus of some top quality graffiti artists and other artists outside painting huge 12’x 8’ masterpieces as well.
There’s so much to say about this show that it’s difficult to know where to start, so I’ll start with the local area and work inwards so to speak. The Coal exchange is right on the edge of the recently refurbished Cardiff Bay, which used to be called Tiger Bay many moons ago and was a big part of the Welsh mining area in years gone by. Now it’s more geared up to tourism, and expensive waterfront apartments that most of us could only ever dream about affording. The Coal Exchange itself stands out as a sort of majestic looking building amongst all the new developments.
As you went up to the main entrance of the building an area had been set up for the graffiti artists who would be painting over the weekend, complete with tarps in case it rained and they needed to work under cover, the other side of the main entrance was a hot food and drink stall who did a roaring trade over the course of the weekend. As you went in the main entrance you came into the foyer which held some of the trade stalls including Dave Fleet’s nephew Shaun who is a barber and spent the weekend creating some wicked shaved designs on people’s heads. There were doors that lead from the foyer into the main hall and as you walked in you were met with the tattoo artists’ booths which were set up with exhibition sets and looked very classy and professional. The main hall is quite a decent size but actually looked small with the amount of booths and trade stalls there were in there. Don’t get me wrong it wasn’t cramped or anything like that, it was just the sheer amount of people that were in there seemed to dwarf the size of the hall. At the far end of the hall was the bar and on the left hand side was the stage, which saw a variety of diverse action over the weekend.
From the minute the doors opened on Saturday the place started steadily filling up and the sound of tattoo machines buzzing filled the air and by mid afternoon even on Saturday the whole place was rocking. It’s funny because although it was busy it wasn’t stressfully so, there was time to stop and chat to people and catch up with old friends. The standard of work both on show and being done was of an extremely high quality for this late on in the year and there was no shortage of new work to photograph. So much so that I spent quite a large portion of the weekend in the studio and missed a fair bit of the acts that were on stage, however I did catch some of The Dead Regulars, Cardiff’s only blue grass band, who were good, I also managed to see the Break Dancers on Sunday, bloody hell they must be fit, I was knackered just watching them. For me the piece de resistance on the entertainment front came from a Belgium three-piece band called The Ghosttones, they list themselves as power surf; if you mix the Shadows style music played by Motorhead it’ll give you an idea of what they were like, in my book the absolute dogs bollox. There was also a tug of war suspension act put on by Body shock from Dublin.
All in all it was a bloody good show and Rob and the guys from Silverhand jewellery have done something a bit different, considering it was the first show the guys had put on I’ve got to take my hat off to them. I know from experience just how much work goes into running an event and for it to go off without any hic-cups shows just how much work went into it.
Next years show is going to be a bit earlier on the 2nd & 3rd of September and if this year was anything to go by it’ll be well worth a visit. For more details check out their website at
Who Was there?
Dave Fleet & Chris Jones, Lee Clements, Lee Burton & Chris Hatton, Ginty & Dale Nicholls, Alun Gregory & Chris Covier, Chris Long, Darryl B, Rod Morriss, Gary Jones, Bryn Jones, Darren Stares, Carl ‘cooky’ Cooke, Doc Dog & George, Big Chris & Dave Bentham, Carl Duquemin, Clive Bilham, Jimmy Lomax, Alan Hale, Paul ‘Myth’ Naylor, Terry Fuller, Mike Hicks, Frank Moore, Giselle Stock & Albert Thomas, Ken Newton, Mr. Nu, Sean Venter, Gary Wiedenhof, Patrick Collins (Holland), Sergei Troubatch (Holland), Jesus Villarino (Spain), Paco (Spain), Patrick Huttlinger (Germany)
And The Winners Are...
Best New School: Paul by Dave Wiper, Modern Savage, Wakefield
Best Oriental: Ian by Brent guesting at Artful Ink
Best Maori: Les by Rod Morriss at Skin Deep
Best Celtic: Mel by Shaun Clifford at Images on Skin Newport
Best Tribal: Craig by Patrick Huntley at Blood Brothers
Best Portrait: Glynn by Darren Stares
Best Black & Grey: Glynn by Darren Stares
Best Sleeve: Kim by Lee Clements at Chameleon Tattoo
Best Back Piece: Leon by Paul Nicholas at Ginty’s Tattooland
Best Body Suit: Cardiff Steve by various artists
Most Unusual: John by Dave Fleet at Abracadabra, Blackwood
Female Small: Tracy by Chris Jones at Abracadabra, Blackwood
Male Small: Alun by Fiona Long
Female Large: Frog by Fletch
Male Large: Paul by Jason Butcher
Best of Saturday: Nigel by Gary Weidenhof
Best of Sunday: Jimmy by Darren Stares
Best of Show overall: Jimmy by Darren Stares