The Intimate Art of Tattoo

BBC Radio 4

In a two part series, Laurence Llewelyn Bowen considers the exponential rise in tattooing across the UK.

While once the markers of transgression, of the exotic, of forbidden sexuality, Laurence looks the many and various factors that are driving us to get tattooed now.

He meets Lal Hardy, one of the UK’s best tattoo artists, who has watched the medium move from the backstreet parlour to the high street studio over the last five decades. At the Great British Tattoo Show, people of all ages descend upon London’s Alexandra Palace to meet some of the industry’s top talent and to plan their next tattoo, from watercolour portraits of their pets to dotwork renderings of Hollywood actors.

Laurence examines the inky sleeves of Charlton Athletic’s footballers, uncovers preserved tattooed human skins from the 19th Century criminal underworld and confronts his own thoughts on getting his first tattoo.

Produced by Paul Smith

Broadcast: November 7th and 14th 2016