Skin Deep Tattoos Exhibition Starts Today

Rebecca Varidel
19th Feb 2021

Skin Deep an immersive Mardi Gras production exploring the history and meaning of tattoos to LGBTQI people, opens today at the National Art School.

The show is a dynamic, site-specific experience, with community performers including Geoff and ballroom dancer Basjia Almaan, choreography by Meryl Tankard, live music by The Song Company, and an atmospheric installation in the original Prisoners Tunnel by NAS student Stefania Riccardi, based on the tattoos of female prisoners at Darlinghurst Gaol.

Skin Deep’s featured photographer Waded which will appear in the exhibition, including the incredible tattoos of Geoff Ostling.

Geoff Ostling is a heavily tattooed bear, famous for pledging to donate his full bodysuit of tattoos to art after his death. Pushing 80, he lives in Sydney, in Potts Point. Geoff was a 42-year-old history teacher when he was first inked by the artist eX de Medici. While his tattoos have been inked all over the world, most have been created by eX de Medici, who has gone on to become one of Australia's biggest artists who now has more than a dozen paintings in the NGA. Her work sells for hundreds of thousands of dollars. From head to toe, and genitals too, Geoff is covered in tattoos in the Japanese tradition featuring native and exotic flowers that grow in a Sydney garden. These include waratahs, orchids, azaleas, strelitzias and poinsettias as well as daphne, jacaranda and wisteria. It's his celebration of life and living. Scattered throughout the floral imagery are a number of queer symbols including bears, the red ribbon and the pink triangle. After his death he hopes to donate his full skin to either the National Museum of Australia, National Gallery, or to MONA.