May 24 2013 Latest news:
Saturday, July 21, 2012
Live tattooing, taxidermy and a book covered in human skin are some of the highlights of an unconventional weekend theme at Norwich Castle this weekend.
The skin exhibition includes a book covered in the skin of murderer William Corder.
Borrowed from Bury St Edmunds’ Moyses Hall, the book was created by the surgeon who dissected Corder’s body for teaching purposes at the West Suffolk Hospital.
Corder was hanged in August 1828 for the ‘Red Barn Murder’ of his lover Maria Marten in 1827.
Rachel Trevor, from the castle museum, said: “The book is the story of his trial but it was written by quite a biased journalist, painting his victim out to be a virtuous young girl but opinions of that differ.”
The skin-themed two-day event is the brainchild of a 10-strong group of 16 to 25-year-olds recruited as part of the Cultural Olympiad to come up with new ways of interpreting the museum’s collection.
They decided to borrow a book covered in human skin, and the indelible artworks being created on customers by tattooists were a fitting addition to some of the paintings and drawings on display in the museum’s modern art gallery.
Visitors to the castle on Saturday saw Reuben Youngblood, of Rude Boy Studios, working on an intricate upper body tattoo inspired by biomechanical forms for 34-year-old Wayne Greenard from Diss, and which has been added to bit by bit for the last three years.
Mr Youngblood said it was a great opportunity for the studios’ tattooists to show their work to a different audience and help to open people’s eyes to what tattooing is about.
The first definite evidence of tattoos comes from the Nile Valley in Ancient Egypt. Mummies in the tomb of Seti show women with tattooed arms and legs.
The Romans developed tattooing after they conquered Greece, slaves and criminals were tattooed as a punishment.
In the Arctic, tattooing was most common among women. Lines tattooed on their chins showed they didn’t laugh much and were therefore hard working and would make good wives.
In Samoa, tattoos were a badge of toughness and designs were very complex, sometimes taking half a year to complete. A man with no tattoos was considered weak.
In the Pacific Islands, men had tattoos which resembled chain mail and women dyed their buttocks blue.
Tattoos were common among Native American tribes and during the 18th and 19th centuries Native American and Pacific Islanders were held captive and their tattoos were shown to large crowds of people. Tattooists sprung up to tattoo soldiers and sailors and the first proper tattoo shop was set up in 1846 in New York City.
He said: “There’s certainly more to it than a lot of people give us credit for. With Wayne’s tattoo a lot of thought has gone into the process.
“There’s a certain amount of planning, a certain amount of ad-libbing, ideas from Wayne and ideas from myself. Working together is part of it because having good communication and a good rapport with your customers is important so that you know what they want.”
Julie Pleasants, who works as part of the learning team at the castle, decided to use the opportunity to get her son’s name inked onto her back.
The 40-year-old, from Brundall, said: “I’m used to doing tours in front of 20 strangers and dressing up as part of the Horrible Histories so it doesn’t bother me having the tattoo done in public.
“It’s good because most people have been excited about it and it’s something different for visitors to see.”
Taxidermist James Milne, from Elm Hill’s Mr P Milne’s Antiques and Curios shop, was demonstrating the art of preparing animals for display using mice.
Appropriately working in the natural histories galleries, which are full of stuffed wildlife, the 28-year-old said: “It’s certainly a lot more time consuming than people imagine.
“I think when people see how long the process is take they are more inclined to be a little bit in reverence of the creatures.”
Ian Flack travelled from Bury St Edmunds with his two young children for the family’s first visit to the castle.
The 35-year-old said: “My children are a bit too young to appreciate this but it’s certainly interesting to see what’s going on and this is our first visit to the castle and its very interesting.
“I’ve seen documentaries on taxidermy in the past but being able to see it in the flesh is good.”
Other highlights of the exhibition includes some vintage furs from the costume and textile collection, including a coat trimmed in monkey fur, life drawing classes, music by DJs Sure Delight and Jazzlord, and a life-size version of the popular Operation game.
The skin event continues on Sunday.