Gillingham has always been one of my favourite conventions, right from the very first one which I think was 7 years ago, although this year it may well be the 8th. The show has always been about having a good time with a laid back atmosphere and never taking itself too seriously.
It’s always been about shooting the breeze with friends both old and new and getting some new ink from the quality artists working. It’s been held in the same venue from day one, The King Charles hotel in Gillingham which sort of goes with the whole atmosphere of the show (people who go regularly will know what I mean). The hotel has been going through some refurbishment over the past few years but it still hasn’t lost the whole quaint charm of sorts that it has…you’ll understand more of what I mean a bit further on…
Ok on to this year’s show. It was held on the Sun & Mon of the bank holiday weekend at the end of May, I left home about 8am on the Sunday as it’s only a couple of hours away for me, as I came onto the M11 it started to spit of rain and within the next ten minutes it was absolutely persisting it down, so much so that I was down to about 40 mph, the motorway was like a river…all I’m glad about is that there wasn’t much traffic on the road as I’m sure that if there was there would have been accidents all over. It carried on raining like this all the way down to Kent and only started to ease up about an hour after reaching the venue. As luck would have it the weather didn’t keep people away and there was a steady number of people about all day. The rain did stop and in the afternoon and the weather turned nice again.
The line up of working artists included both old timers (by that I mean those who have worked every single show) and some that are not so old. The old timers included such names as Tony B and Trish, Jay Parker, Brendan Mudd, Andy Blair, Medway Tattoo and Emma from Lady Luck and the Newbies included Mr Nu, Blood Brothers, Chris Jones, Alan from Top Dog plus loads more. Now at this point I have a confession to make…on the Sunday I spent most of the day networking, in other words I spent most of the day socialising and chatting and having the odd shandy and not actually doing a lot of work, Hey it doesn’t happen very often and I caught up on the Monday. By about 8pm things had gone fairly quiet in the hall so I packed up and went out for a meal with Chris and the guys from Medway Tattoo and Mr Nu. It was a really nice evening, thanks Chris. After that we came back to the hotel and partook of a couple of bevvies at the bar before I turned in about 2.
The next morning saw me up showered and down to breakfast by 9am and ready to rock n roll, it was raining again and had been most of the night, pretty heavy too, as I walked round the convention hall there were strategically placed buckets catching water where the roof was leaking. A bit later I found out that the ceiling in one of the rooms where one of the convention goers was staying had sort of given way and they had an unexpected shower, or should I say deluge.
Anyway the doors opened and I suspected it would be really quiet, what with the weather and going on how slow some of the other shows have been this year, but no, there was a steady stream of people filing in. It was slower than it has been some other years but by no means quiet, so I set too picking people out to photograph, and that was me busy for the day. Judging was done a bit later in the afternoon and anyone who I hadn’t already got I had chance to catch then.
Before you knew it the day had whizzed past and the presentations were being made for the competitions, after which the venue emptied in next to no time and it was time for me to pack up and face yet more rain on the drive home, but all that didn’t dampen the spirit of the convention goers one little bit.
And The Winners Are...
Best Realistic: Arron by Leigh Oldcorn
Tribal/Celtic: Nicky by jay parker
Large Colour Male: Tim by Mantas
Large Colour Female: Nikki by Jay Parker
Small Colour Male: Jo by Chris Jones
Small Colour Female: Tracy by Leigh Oldcorn
Large Black/Grey: Phil by Leigh Oldcorn
Small Black/Grey Male: Mac by Jeff Boncherie
Small Black/Grey Female: Tracy by Leigh Oldcorn
Best of Show: Mandy by Brendon Mudd