As you sit reading this, Christmas is nearly upon us once again and it doesn’t seem possible that another year has gone by already. Still, let me take you back a few weeks to the last show of the year in England, a new show that had been put together from an original idea in the summer and all came together to form the first Halloween Tattoo Bash at Newton Abbot Racecourse in Devon.
The show was organised and run by Mac of Punctured Body Piercing and Rod Morris, along with their crew. When Mac first mentioned the idea to me in the summer I thought he was hoping for too much in organising, advertising and running a new show in that amount of time…how wrong was I?
We drove down on the Friday, a really shitty journey because of the amount of traffic, and eventually arrived at the hotel some 6 ½ hours after leaving home. After a quick freshen up we wandered the two minute walk to the pub where everyone was meeting up a bit later to grab something to eat. After a few light refreshments and some general socialising, we made our way back to the hotel to be bright and fresh for the next day.
Saturday morn saw us up and at the racecourse nice and early to set up; downstairs was laid out for the working artists and upstairs was the trade stalls, bar and seating area. The doors were open to the public from 11 am and I was surprised at just how many people there were coming in that early on a Saturday. It wasn’t long before most of the artists were busy working away on various pieces of artwork. There were a good selection of working artists from all over the UK and Ireland and I was lucky as I had my studio set up right next to where the artists were working, so I got to photograph quite a lot of pieces as they were finished.
Just through the doors to the outside was the racecourse, with vendors selling hot drinks, doughnuts, burgers etc. It was a bit of a shame that the weather wasn’t as good on the Sunday, as the guy with the doughnut stall said if I could get a pic of his stand published he’d do me free drinks and doughnuts for the whole duration of next year’s show…he doesn’t realise just how many free doughnuts I can eat.
The one thing that let the show down on the Saturday was the endless stream of various bands they had playing in the upstairs hall all day, but after people complained they actually cancelled the bands booked for the Sunday; now that’s what you call taking notice of the public and acting upon it! The show quietened down early evening and at 8pm the doors shut for the day. For the artists and other guests it was time to grab some food and get ready for the evening, where there was a fancy dress Halloween party laid on in the upstairs bar. There were some pretty cool costumes being worn and the winner for the fancy dress for the evening went to Dan Gold, who came as a can of Spam; not very Halloween I know but really funny. Another funny costume was that of Darren Stares, who came as a pervy monk, complete with a rubber willy. Apart from a few die-hards most of us retired to the hotel by about 2am where we ended up sitting talking and having the odd drink for a bit longer, although a few managed to sit up ‘til 5am.
Sunday morning came round way too quick and after breakfast at the hotel it was back to the venue ready for the door opening to the public at 11am. It wasn’t such a good day weather-wise as it was pissing down with rain, but that didn’t keep people away; there was a steady stream through the door from the off and there was some really great work on show and being done. One piece that I was impressed with was a pair of tribal hammerhead sharks that were done by hand on a guy’s back by Keng from Bamboo House Tattoo. There were no gaps in the line work at all! The judging started at about 2.30pm and went through ‘til about 7pm for best of show.
The presentations were made at around 8pm and not long after, we had to make a move as we were driving back that night.
I think Mac, Rod and the gang did bloody well for a first show and I’m really looking forward to next year. If you can make it down to Newton Abbot Racecourse for the weekend of the 1st /2nd November then put it in your diary.