Museum hosts photo exhibit on tattoos

Tattoos of all shapes and sizes with a deep meaning to those who wear them will be on display this summer at the L&A County Museum and Archives. Photo by Adam Prudhomme.

Adam Prudhomme
Beaver Staff

A very different exhibit will grace the walls of the Lennox and Addington County Museum and Archives this summer as they explore the art of body ink.

Titled “My Story, My  Tattoo,” the 32-photograph exhibit explores the very personal story of people and their tattoos.

On loan from the Wellington County Museum and Archives, the exhibit will have an official launch with guest speaker Deborah Davidson, a tattoo sociologist and associate professor from York University on June 19 at 7 p.m. Her presentation will be part of the county’s ongoing Tuesday Night at the Museum series. The exhibit will run until Sept. 22.

“It’s a great photography show just highlighting very visual, very colourful tattoos with very poignant and significant stories,” explains JoAnne Himmelman, curator with the L&A County Museum and Archives. “Everywhere from a grieving mother to a breast cancer survivor to surviving a drug addiction to surviving a car accident. There’s also happy stories too of mothers and daughters, that kind of thing. They’re all very strong and poignant stories.”

All of the photos are professionally done and vary from full body shots to close ups of the tattoos. They include full arm sleeve tattoos of bright colours to simple yet powerful text. Some are just one person while others feature two people.

“It’s interactive,” said Himmelman. “Amy (Dunlop, who created the exhibit) has done a great job of continuing to make her show interactive even on the road. There’s four audio stations where you can pick up the phone receiver and they are all located next to the person who is talking. It’s them telling you about their story and their tattoo.”

There’s also a station that includes videos of subjects sharing their stories and the inspiration behind their tattoos.

Himmelman says it’s different than other exhibits they’ve hosted, but one that will have mass appeal.

“This is our generation, we’re a tattooed generation with things to say in a different way,” said Himmelman.

While the pop culture attitude surrounding tattoos may have shifted in the last couple of decades, the art of tattoos is nothing new. It’s considered one of the oldest and most persistent forms of body modification, dating back to ancient Egypt and beyond. They’ve long been used from commemorative, spiritual and decorative purposes.

Davidson will cover the history of tattoos as well as delve into the deeper meaning behind them during her presentation next Tuesday, which begins at 7 p.m. Guitarist John Torres will also perform with light refreshments from Ellena’s Cafe provided. Tickets are $3 at the door.

Also at the presentation a temporary photo booth will be set up at the museum where guests will be able to take a picture of their tattoo which they can add to a communal storyboard.  Throughout the summer people can share their stories through social media by sharing photos of their ink and including hashtag #mystorymytattoo or by visiting

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