This was the fifth year that the Gillingham convention had been held at the King Charles hotel just outside the actual town center of Gillingham in Kent. When we arrived we got a pleasant surprise as the main area where the convention is held had been totally refurbished and I must say looked so much better for it. Apparently they are going to give the whole hotel a bit of a face lift, so by next year there should be a marked change in a lot of areas.
Once in and set up there was chance to catch up with a few people before the doors opened to the public. As always there were some who had come down on the Friday and had spent a sociable night in the bar, so much so that there was more than one person who felt shall we say a little fragile on the Saturday morning, and a few that had not gone to bed until 5am. Needless to say (as I’m tee total) that I was not one of them, (he, he).
Gillingham is one of those laid back shows that has a really warm and friendly atmosphere, there’s no pressure or attitude, no wonder the artists who work it come back year after year after year after……This years line up of working artists included Spacey from Bizarre Ink in Edinburgh, Mr. Nu, traditional hand stick artist from Portsmouth, Jason Butcher from Immortal ink in Chelmsford, Tony B from Tilbury tattoo studio, John Treharne from Skin Creation in Cardiff, the crew from Medway tattoo in Rochester and of course Gillingham, Jay Parker from Skin Illustrations in Maidstone, Dan Stone and Nicky from Electric Buddha in Ramsgate plus a host of other award winning artists.
The doors opened to the public at 12 noon and although the Saturday was quiet I think it was busier than the last few years. This isn’t a bad thing from my point of view as it gives me the opportunity to spend a bit more time with the people I’m photographing rather than just taking the pictures and going straight on to the next person. The day still seemed to pass fairly quickly and it didn’t seem to be that long before we were talking about closing for the night and getting some well deserved food inside us, after eating out at a really nice noodle house in town we came back to the hotel bar and had a swift drink before retiring for the night and leaving the bar to those who were going to feel fragile on Sunday morning.
As on the Saturday the doors opened to the public at 12 and within an hour the place was awash with people, I can honestly sat that I’m sure it was the busiest Sunday there has been at Gillingham. There was so much good work on show it was a job to know where to start. This meant that I was kept busy for most of the day and didn’t get to see much apart from the inside of the studio but hey, you can’t have everything. Before you knew it the time had come to draw the raffle and have the prize giving for the tattoo competition, which was followed by everybody starting to pack up and make their weary but happy way back home.
If you’ve never been to the Gillingham convention, then next year give it a visit………..I think you’ll be glad you did.
And The Winners Are...
Realistic: John by Jay Parker @ Skin Illustrations, Maidstone
Tribal: Katt by Spacey @ Bizarre Ink, Scotland
Large Male Colour: Paul by Dave Wiper @ Modern Savage, Wakefield
Large Female Colour: Ann by Ray Hunt @ Medway Tattoo, Rochester
Small Colour Male: Glynn by Fiona Long @ Feline Tattoos
Small Colour Female: Jane by Ray Hunt @ Medway Tattoo, Rochester
Large B&G: Tim by Mantas @ Angelic Hell, Brighton
Small B&G: Tracy by Jason Butcher @ Immortal Ink
Best of Show: Paul by Jason Butcher @ Immortal Ink