Gillingham Tattoo Convention

Published: 30 March, 2010 - Featured in Skin Deep 175, August, 2009

It’s hard to believe sometimes with all the conventions that come and go just how long some have been running, this is the case with Gillingham, I’ve covered this show every year from when it started and this year saw its 9th anniversary. Maybe it’s just as you get older the years go by quicker but it sure as hell didn’t seem that long ago when I went to the first one. 

 

Since the very first year the Gillingham show has always been at the same venue; the King Charles hotel in Gillingham, and as the years have gone by we’ve been able to see the gradual refurbishment of the hotel…they’ve still got a long way to go but it’s getting better as each year passes.

 

For any of you reading this that haven’t been to this show over the past nine years it’s not a big flash show, it’s more of a small, intimate type of affair with a really laidback atmosphere and is traditionally held on the Sunday & Monday of the bank holiday at the end of May. This year on the Sunday saw us have the hottest day of the year so far with temperatures in some places reaching well over 30 degrees. With this being the case the show did suffer on the Sunday as I think a lot of people went to the coast instead, but it was still busy enough for the artists to be on the go all day. One of the best things about this show is that just about everybody from far away and even some of the locals stay on site so in the evening, once the show has finished for the day, there’s a good mix of people sitting in the lounge and bar areas talking, eating and having a tipple or two. I got my head down about 2am but some didn’t make it to bed until 5ish, I don’t know how they managed to do it.

 

On the Monday there was a definite change in the weather, it was a lot cooler and a bit on the wet side, which was good for the show as there was a constant flow of people coming in from the minute the doors opened and it wasn’t long before the familiar sound of tattoo machines could be heard all over the hall. There is only room at Gillingham for about thirty working artists yet it still manages to attract artists from all over the country and this year was no exception; there was Rod Clark and crew from Burnley, Emma from Aurora, Lancaster, Chris Jones from Cardiff, Richard Cubbins from Southampton, Mr Nu from Portsmouth, Emma from Lady Luck in Portsmouth, Clive Bilham also from Portsmouth and Dan Gold came down from London, just to name a few. So you can see for a small local show it still attracts big name artists. As I walked round I could see some; superb pieces of work being done and during the day, I tried to get most of them in the studio to photograph, but as is always the same when you’re busy time runs away and before you know it the time has come for the judging of the competitions. Over the years I’ve been a judge more times than I care to remember and I can assure you first hand that it is not easy, but I can also honestly say that I have never had more of a laugh during judging than at Gillingham, they always seem to get just the right mixture of people to judge that have a laugh and joke but at the same time take what they are doing seriously, you only have to ask some of the contestants!

 

Once the judging is over and the results are tallied up it’s time to announce the winners of this years show and then for everyone to pack up and make their weary but happy ways home and that’s it, over for another year. Next year's show is the 10th anniversary and is promising to be something a bit special, the dates will be the same, the bank holiday weekend at the end of May, so keep the weekend noted in your dairy. Once again my thanks go to Paul, Darren and the whole crew for another great time and see you there next year.

 

and the Winners are...

REALISTIC 

DICKY BY LEIGH OLDCORN

 

TRIBAL/CELTIC 

KAI BY JULIE CLARKE

 

COLOUR MALE Large 

SCOTT BY JOHN SLACK

 

COLOUR FEMALE  Large 

JULIE BY ANDY BARBER

 

COLOUR MALE small 

SIM BY ARRAN BURTON

 

COLOUR FEMALE small 

CEILIAH BY BEN @ MEDWAY TATTOO 

black+Gray Large 

NICOLE BY EMMA KIERZEK

black+Gray male small 

DAVE BY BOB TYRRELL

black+Gray female small 

MANDY BY BRENDON MUDD

best done at show 

JULIE BY ANDY BARBER

 

Credits

Text & Photography: Paul Callaby

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Skin Deep 175 1 August 2009 175
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