S.I.N.Z South Island Tattoo and Art Expo, New Zealand

Published: 10 February, 2010 - Featured in Skin Deep 136, August, 2006

The weather leading up to the convention had been very ‘British’ - cold and wet but on the day of the show, the sun shone down on the masses. 

As this was the first SINZ (South Island, New Zealand) convention it was everything organiser Sue Moore could have hoped for. Not that she saw a lot of it as she sent most of the day running around exhausted, tearing her hair out, a feeling I’m sure most convention organisers can relate too. But she need not have worried. The months of dedicated planning by her team made the day buzz along making her ‘Best of Day’. The venue catered for everything the crowd could need with outside seating, live entertainment, hot rods and local art stalls. We had met with Sue and helpers the night before, after two hours driving in circles looking for netball pitches (the venue), but after a few local beers and a lot of laughs we ended up parking our van on the site and we then became the over-night security!

The show didn’t appear to be heavily advertised in Christchurch but people had heard the word from somewhere and come Eleven O’clock the queue of heavily tattooed people was half way around the car park, mingling with the hot-rods on display.

The tattooed folk enjoyed the novelty of having their photos taken by a UK tattoo magazine. This was a first for most and many are still proud to be linked to the UK. This allowed us access to ‘Down-Under’ artwork where they like their body suits big style! With over thirty categories, the guest judges, Hugo Goorhuis and Yan Hus from Almere Tattoo in the Netherlands had their work cut out. The artists working at the show were busy all day. I think the locals were a bit unsure as to what was supposed to happened at a convention and the novelty of having a tattoo done on the day took a few by surprise.

During our week prior to the show we met some local artist over a social beverage and their feeling about SINZ was that it was ‘bound to be full of hippies and substandard bullshit tattoos’, How wrong they were, typical of the pathetic bitchiness in the art world and we had to ask where was their stall at the show!

One interesting category was ‘Self-Tattooed’ which was judged by a public ballot. The standard of work was amazing, not to mention the positions they must have put themselves in! One artist that stood out was Realene Robinson, she also turned her hand to leatherwork for the awards, each one hand made from kangaroo hide and each unique.

It was disappointing to hear that there were no entrants for the Moko categories in the land of Moko, this didn’t seem to make sense, but quite a surprise considering Riki Manual was there to demonstrate some remarkable Moko art.  The general vibe about the show was all positive and I’m sure it will not be the last.

Within the major cities of New Zealand, tattoo art is there on the streets and the inhabitants are proud of their ink and they do it big and bright in NZ, but once you venture away from the metropolis it seems to go underground. The only ‘body mod’ sighting we made out in the wilds was the odd branded sheep! We enjoyed the convention immensely, the welcome we received was great, we also took up Riki Manuel’s invitation to spend the day at his Christchurch Art studio where we received a traditional Maori welcome, which was a great honour and a true learning experience into the ways of the Maori.

The stay in New Zealand flew by and the ‘tattooed folk’ we met in the North Island is another story all together. It was a real shame that we had to leave. We’ll be back for sure!


Skin Deep 136 1 August 2006 136