Skin & Bone is a combination gallery and tattoo studio. The gallery will exhibit art and ethnographic handicrafts related to tattooing, while the studio will have Colin Dale tattooing alongside various guest artists throughout the year. Through his years of travelling and tattooing around the world Colin has had the pleasure to meet and work alongside a wide range of tattoo artists and experts working in ethnographic and other specialized styles. Amongst these friends, we have hand-tattooists from Borneo, Polynesia and Japan as well as some of the world's leading artists in Blackwork and Dotwork coming to visit. Check the homepage to see some of the work

Wednesday, 6 February 2013

Helleristning, Rock Art and Petroglyph inspired tattoos

I've been posting alot of my more advanced projects lately and thought that it might be time to switch gears and go back to the basics. I've been tattooing by machine and hand for the same length of time and in the early years alot of my hand tattooing came from petroglyphs and rock art (known as helleristning in Scandinavia). However even before tattooing I had been studying rock art in my native Canada and it was actually these simple stylized motives that got my foot in the door of tattooing. Over the years I've continued studying and visiting rock art sites... Tanum, Norrköping, Sprout Lake, Gabriola Island, Nanaimo Petroglyph Park, the Chumach Cave, and Milk River sites amoungst others... taking photos, doing rubbings and getting inspiration. Over the years I've also been pushing myself both with my technique as well as designs to breath new life into these motifs and take them beyond simple symbols and make them into tattoos which have a relationship with the body. Often this will involve modifying the design or making an totally original piece in the same style. For this reason, although I hope that people will be inspired by the tattoos, I hope that they will take their inspiration from the original rock art... as these tattoos were designed for these individuals.

Cirkeline sailing at Tanum
Tanum is on the list of UNESCO's protected cultural sites of the world

A few warriors from Tanum
The Swedish paint the petroglyphs so that they are more visable to the public

Another ship from Tanum 

I recently began a back piece on Réne and was reminded of the stomach piece we did using a figure from Tanum as the center. I have a much simpler version of this figure on my own forearm

Nikoline's Sunship is inspired by the helleristninger, however to make it fit her back I had to draw a more symetrical version. However I did keep a swing in the mast to give it a little life as well as doing it in dotshading to give it a little more depth. There are many stories of how the sun and moon crossed the sky... by ship was one of the more common images from the Bronze Age

 Søren's Warrior was based on several petroglyphs... and on none :-). Søren is a warrior in Viking re-enactment and watching this figure move as he does is almost hypnotic.

 The warrior is meant to protect his back

Petroglyphs can also be combined to tell a persons story... family, friends, feats of bravery.
I combined these figures at a convention in Berlin several years back to tell a personal story for the client. Much like the Polynesian style, these simple symbols can be arranged in different combinations to suit the individual

Because of their simplicity these symbols can be as large or small as you desire.
Here I am tattooing a small ship design behind my friend Travelling Mick's ear to guide him on his travels

Fellow tattooist Matze liked the idea so much he asked me to tattoo a larger version behind both his ears while at a convention in Toronto
P.S. Do you see a vase or two faces??? :-)

Nanna was 4 months pregnant with Loki when I tattooed her first arm on the island of Tahiti :-)
Nanna's arm was choicen by the judges as one of the best examples of hand tattooing done at  Tattoonesia 2007

We did the second arm a few years later on Vancouver Island.
The design is inspired by iron age bracelets which circles her arm 7 times. We then added small petroglyphs which symbolize various periods in her life

A sunwagon was another way in which the sun and moon were suppose to have transversed the sky. This belief carried on into the Viking age with the sun being chased by the wolf  Sköl and the moon by Hati
Here I've added a geometric pattern to symbolize the suns rays and left the petroglyph in negative. The pattern forms to his arm like a bracer

Francois' leg was tattooed by hand over about 13 hours (we did 9 on the first day and followed up with a few shorter the next two).
This petroglyph is from Spain and shows a man hanging from vines to gather honey from a hive. The original petroglyph also includes several stylized bees. 
We added a geometric honeycomb pattern around the hive and down his leg... this is stylistically inspired by a male Hawaíian tattoo design which would be tattooed up the left leg and sometimes curve into the center of the back

Petroglyphs from the Nanaimo Petroglyph Park on Vancouver Island
Unfortunately I've lost all of my analog photos from that time... but still have rubbings and drawings of many of these designs :-)

Thomas received a petroglyph of the Dresden Whale from a site on Gabriola Island.
He was inspired by a rubbing I made and he had been admiring for years
My friend Mark was a great inspiration and source of knowledge regarding Native American art and culture. It was Mark who originally got me invited out to The Lejre Archaeological Research Center to experiment with prehistoric tattoo practices. This picture was taken the first year we were out there and aside from working at the Center, Mark has also lent his body to many of my earlier tattoo experiments. Marks tattoos are a combination of Native American and Scandinavian symbolism

Dewitt is tattooed with an design from the Columbia plateau in Canada surrounded by a simple geometric pattern of my own design. I tattooed Dewit after I had an exhibition and demonstration of Native tattooing practices at Wanuskewin Heritage Park back in 1998

 Another rubbing made on Gabriola Island in Canada

and a tattoo of the same design

 My sister Maggie is Native Cree so we opted for a Plains Indian design to adorn her lower back.
This was one of my first large scale petroglyphs and had to be adjusted alot from the original to fit her body 

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