Sept 2015 feature artists Nimbin Tattoo Studio

This month we are focussing on a group, the three women artists from the Nimbin Tattoo Studio – who along with Markus Art effectively form an artists’ collective right here in Nimbin. While having different styles and different backgrounds, these three women have formed a bond through their dedication to their art and the collaboration which arises from their common aims and their friendship. From 14 September we will be devoting this month’s feature spot to them in Nimbin Artists Gallery.

Beki Davies is a fully trained tattooist, who learned her craft the hard way – three years of 12 hour working days, as an unpaid apprentice. Since then she has had 11 years of professional experience but she says that back in those days it was a very male dominated trade, characterised by its roots in the bikie culture of the time. She makes it clear that it is her work as an artist which motivates her most strongly now. She is working on a Diploma of Visual Arts at Lismore TAFE, and has an omnivorous desire to master various branches of art. Her art work is naturally heavily influenced by her tattoo experience and the lowbrow culture that tattoo art is generally associated with, but it is this which determines the eclectic character of her work. Her non-tattoo art is often inspired by the myths lying at the roots of our culture, stories of humans pitting their strength against the epic primal forces of giant beasts and nature. Her subject matter often involves nautical themes, sailing ships, giant octopuses and hugely turbulent seas. This relates back to the earliest form of tattoo in our western culture, the tradition amongst sailors of carrying tattoos. Her work often teases the viewer, and often presents evocative images which are capable of starting stories in the mind of the viewer.

Miss Marley is an artist (though not a tattooist) who produces drawings that at first appear simple, but with closer viewing surprise with unexpected depths. Her works are very often humorous, and whenever humour appears in art you have different levels, different values in collision. Those faces, delicate and cartoon like, seem almost cutesy at first, but then reveal a range of expressions which suggest a more nuanced quality in the work as a whole. Apart from the surrounds, and particularly the weather, which when denoted is dark and rainy, the women portrayed come across as variously poised, self-possessed, focussed, self-assured, and above all self-determining. Their limbs are fragile, stick-like, but in the mouth there is a determined, uncompromising strength. The mouths are slightly pursed and even prim, but it’s the primness of someone who knows exactly what she wants and is not open to compromise. Full on, resolute, like the POW! pendant Marley wore when I interviewed her. And then there are the little accompanying creatures, dogs, ghosts, skulls. These are the representatives of that other world, where humans are no longer in control, the world of darkness, death, or just non-human creatures. Miss Marley's characters live with these entities, but they appear as cute little things. These forces are never far away in this world, but Miss Marley's women sashay on undeterred, always well presented, and purposeful. There is a seriousness underneath, which is scrupulously denied by the glossy, facetious surface presentation, except for where the jokey little ghouls and skulls somehow find a place, as pets and friends of these delicate little warrior-women.

So call in over the next month and see the display of the works of these three inspired artists.

Peter Warne

Nimbin Artists Gallery.

Next Post