Words Anthony Moore
Photo’s Adam Russ – Right Eye Media Australia
After a year off and under new ownership, the Rites Of Passage Tattoo Festival returned to the beautiful heritage listed Royal Exhibition Building in Carlton, Melbourne with over 200 artists from around the world. The quality of artists at this year’s event was astounding. As 21 year US veteran Jime Litwalk said, “It’s not often you get to walk a floor and see the calibre of artists like this, it’s a great show.”
Rarely would anyone walk by a booth without checking out what piece was under way. It was also very gratifying to see how many of the amazing artists are from Melbourne. Some of our favourites from the long weekend included many from our home city; Nina Grierson-Jones, Olivia Brumen, Bobby Dunbar, Dean Kalcoff and Frederick Bain (originally from NZ), as well as interstater’s Luke Muller (QLD), Jack Tattooing (QLD), Teneile Napoli (QLD), Jacob Gwynn (NSW) and Damien Wickham (QLD). Some of the big internationals that definitely caused a traffic jam were all sitting together, Nikko Hurtado, Jime Litwalk and Joe Capobianco. The three are legends in their field and a definite high light to see in action.
It’s a different environment to be working as well as tattooed in. The constant eyes watching must be somewhat off putting at times, but it’s the best form of advertisement for the tattooists and all of the one’s we came across seem to thrive on the excitement of those wandering the floor as well as the artists they get to reconnect with and meet for the first time.
Some of the different vendors included Lucho Libre Mexican wrestling masks, Jubly-Umph artwork, jewellery and accessories, various ink and machine stands and the best dressed barber, Odenn Lee from Eureka Rebellion Trading, who was wearing a bloodied white lab coat.
One of the stand outs was watching Peter Sheringham from The Piercing Urge doing body scarification, literally in the flesh. Not for the faint hearted but once you get past the fact he is meticulously slicing into the skin of his clients, it’s quite amazing to watch. His skill and perfect lines is testament to the fact it is an art form all unto itself. Speaking with one of his clients it was a very liberating experience. Sheringham applies Blue Gel, an anaesthetic which also contains a vascular constrictor which reduces swelling, bruising and bleeding which lasts for a couple of hours. The piece in the photo (apologies as it was on an iPhone) was to cover up self-cutting and harm and turn a negative and dark period in the client’s life into something beautiful and positive. Some of the people were repulsed watching it done but once getting past that, most stopped and watched on with fascination. Sheringham also does various branding although it’s not as popular as scarification.
Check out more of Peter Sheringhams work here.