The biggest tattoo event in the southern hemisphere happens in Cape Town this weekend; Hg2 Cape Town author Keith Bain says there’s more to the gathering than exposed flesh and a series of tiny pricks.
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Now in its third year, Southern Ink Xposure (SIX) is an international convention for anyone even remotely interested or fascinated by tattoo art. While there’ll be dozens of globally-respected tattooists showcasing their work and enabling local enthusiasts to get the mobile personal artwork they’ve always wanted, this is also a platform for artists to share ideas, techniques, and design innovations.

Although you’d need to be a major tattoo aficionado to recognise the names, some of the international celebrity tattooists in attendance are Americans White Trash Matt and Rising Dragon; Yushi Takei from Japan; Taiwan’s Andy Shou; Belgian Psycho Pat; Swedish artist Gunnar Foley; Laura Juan from Spain; Canadian Glen Paradis; and Italian Tom Tattoo. They’ll be connecting with South African skin artists, including Derek Baker (aka Metal Machine), Miss Hap, Reverend Simon White, and Manuela Gray (who co-founded the convention with her husband, Allan Gray). Manuela’s work is featured in the accompanying portraits, taken by Antonia Steyn; you can see more of her photography at

Although SIX is primarily a platform for promoting skin art, the event extends beyond the walls of the convention (happening at the V&A Waterfront’s Pavilion Conference Centre), with parties, concerts, art exhibitions and installations taking the action into different venues all around the city. At the ‘Body of Work’ exhibition (which opens tonight), tattoos are considered in the context of contemporary art, alongside the ‘Dead Man’s Hand’ exhibit, which features pre-cast hands imaginatively transformed into artworks. The dual exhibition launches at /A Word of Art/Art Space in the Woodstock Industrial Centre (

If you’re keen to party alongside the tattooists (or amongst the tattooed) without necessarily getting needled, head for Club Voom Voom (ex-Bang Bang Club premises) on Friday night when there’ll be some low-level mischief-making at the decadent-sounding Miss Behave party. You’ll be partying with live bands Peachy Keen, Them Tornados, and The Bone Collectors. Saturday night, the post-convention action moves to Zula Sound Bar ( for the aptly-titled Live Fast Die Last party; scheduled to perform are Soweto-based rock band, Ree-Burth, and local garage punk outfit, The Revelators. There’s a big after-party scheduled for Sunday night, but the when and where remain under wraps.

The Convention proper kicks off on Friday at 5pm; check out for all the details.


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