Much more than the pigments of imagination, tattoos embody a rich cultural and social history dating back to Neolithic times.
Writer: Sarah Harris – Photographs: David Field
So much so that T’Hooft barista and Maldon Community Bank director, Jacinta Mulholland, 22, says that the tattooed outnumber the “cleanskins” among her former schoolmates.
Her own body art is extensive and – in a departure from the death metal and gothic creations favoured by many young people – is classically inspired, including the first phrase of Beethoven’s Fur Elise around her ankle and a large portrait of the wild-haired composer on her thigh.
“My third tattoo is still my biggest one. It is a peacock that starts on my hip, comes up my ribs and onto my shoulders.
“It has no meaning. I just liked the design and chose it off the flash. It was originally about 15cm high and I said to Shorty, ‘I love it, but let’s make it a lot bigger’. That took five sittings averaging about 3.5 hours each.
“My upper arms are also covered. Again they are just designs I love and include an image of an old calendar girl and an owl sitting in a teapot.
“I am keeping my legs in black and grey. They are going to be for special tattoos that have particular meaning to me. The next thing I want is an old Singer sewing machine as a tribute to my grandmother and a big Ray Charles portrait to keep Beethoven and my grandfather company.”
Jacinta’s penchant for tattoos is completely accepted by her “cleanskin” parents. “My mum and dad really like them. They see it as part of my individuality.
“They are extremely addictive. While you are sitting there getting your first little tattoo you start looking at all the flash around the walls and you think, next I could get that. Then they start getting bigger and bigger and you start understanding the different styles.”
She’s under no illusion about how they will look when she gets older.
“I figure if my skin is going to get old and wrinkly anyway it might as well be colourful,” she laughs…