Unusual Objects 222 - Studio IX Custom Ink & Art Gallery

Published: 26 February, 2013 - Featured in Skin Deep 222, March, 2013

Hopefully, the first in a new series in which we cruise around the planet hunting for weird things tattooists have collected and have on display in their studio. We figured that if anybody is going to collect oddities, it’s those guys. Let’s put that theory to the test.

To begin, we start our journey extremely far north. OK, so there’s probably other places a lot further north, but that all depends on your perspective so I’m standing by my claim. We have found ourselves somewhere in Scotland that is not Inverness (which is the only place I’ve ever been to before in Scotland) – we are, in fact, in Grangemouth, a few miles outside of Falkirk at Studio IX with the main man here, Murray Robertson.

This appears to be a good place to start the quest. See, I knew Murray had this sword that I wanted to see first-hand, and that was what I was angling at – what I didn’t know was how much other ‘junk’ he had collected over the years. Before I get distracted, let’s have a look at this mighty piece of kit.

If you ever get close to it, the first thing you’ll notice is how heavy it is. You can’t imagine fighting with any grace at all – just wielding it for a few minutes is wearing, but then again, you can cut paper with the edge of the blade, so all you’d need is one good shot with it. Then I find it’s his ‘mobile version’ on loan from a client that he takes on the road with him! The real deal is bigger than this and bolted to the wall – perhaps for obvious reasons. It ain’t going nowhere.

It’s a replica of a Highland Claymore – yeah, people really did scrap with these back in the day. With a glint in his eye, Murray suggests, “next time I come to one of your shows, I’ll bring an axe and a couple of shields… we can have a bit of a scrap, eh?” I think I might pass on that. You seriously can’t comprehend how heavy this thing is – it’s like arming yourself with a car boot to defend yourself.

Looking around, I have the good fortune to find other things here that are worthy of a mention. I’ve seen plenty of skulls out on the road, but never a sabre-toothed tiger skull. This one is a full size museum replica of the real thing – which again, is huge but beautiful. I’m fancying this for my house, but I haven’t brought a flight case to make off with it. Besides, a) Murray is a great guy and I wouldn’t do that to him, and b) see previous paragraph about the sword.

Bizarrely perhaps after poring over these oddities from far too many days gone by, he also has a rather fine and very cool print from Pablo Picasso – an original produced by the man himself in the ’50s and signed! I’ve seen Dali work up close before, but never Picasso. As usual with names that get bandied around like sweets, it’s only when you come into contact with something genuine that you really begin to appreciate exactly why they’re up there in the first place. This is good stuff.

To wrap up our road trip, Murray remembers that he might have something else of interest – a busted up guitar presented to him by Igor Cavalera (drummer in Sepultura) that he blagged by telling him he would display it in the studio. He kept his word – here it is, larger than life. Once upon a time, this would have been good enough by itself, but it pales into the banal in the presence of all this proper stuff.

So there you go, a worthy, interesting and excellent road trip. For the record, Murray is pretty handy at the old tattooing lark as well. Check him out. If you ask him nicely, he might even show you his chopper. In all seriousness, you’d be hard pushed to find another artist who has received a written recommendation for his work from the Chivalric Order of Knights Templar.

You can find one of his pieces in the supplement this month – image number one on page 45.