By Lindsey Turnbull
Cayman’s art lovers have enjoyed their fair share of art exhibitions over the years, but there has never been an exhibition that is dedicated to one particular expression of art, the tattoo. All this is about to change when Avril Ward opens up her Awardart Gallery to a brand-new exhibition on 13th February called ‘No Body Involved’ which will feature designs by two of Cayman’s greatest tattoo artists – Caz Mayer and Yaya Franceschi from Blue Dragon Tattoos 345.
Tattoos have undergone a renaissance in recent years. Once the decoration of sailors taking place in seedy back street parlours, tattoos have come into the mainstream of the art world now with a cross section of society owning tattoos that can range from simple, small and discreet designs to elaborate pieces of artwork that cover large parts of the body.
Caz is originally from the UK and has lived in Cayman for 23 years and has been a tattoo artist for 19 years. Yaya is from Italy and has lived in Cayman for almost two years, having been a tattoo artist for seven years.
Caz said that Cayman has quite a different approach to the concept of tattoos now versus just a couple of decades ago when they were first introduced, when the concept of owning a tattoo was still considered socially rebellious.
“When the first tattoo artists wanted to set up shop in Cayman there were moves to permit only registered nurses to perform them,” she said.
But bringing in legislation to allow tattoo artists to establish in Cayman meant that the industry was properly regulated and overseen and that residents didn’t need to seek a tattoo artist overseas when Cayman had its own professional body of artists at home.
While they may have caused something of a stir locally when their profession was first introduced to the island, artists like Caz and Yaya now have steady work from mainly local clientele.
“I think people have realised that just because you are abroad looking for a tattoo artist, good ones are actually hard to come by and so our clients often come back to have more tattoos done because they are so pleased with our work,” Caz explained.
Caz said that it is always interesting to work on a new tattoo for a client because people have such varied tastes, and she has seen all sorts of fads such as tribal tattoos and Japanese symbols be requested. She confirmed that while her clientele is generally of the 20 to 30 age group, they do not conform to a stereotype.
“I have clients who are doctors, lawyers and policemen,” she confirmed.
Avril said she was really excited to push the boundaries of art and showcase the artistic talent of Caz and Yaya because she felt their artistry needed to be appreciated.
“I would love people to view the exhibition and gain a real appreciation of just how talented our tattoo artists are,” she said. “Tattoo artists are artists; they just use the medium of the body to express their art.”
Avril said she was also fascinated by the individual styles of each artist, with Caz favouring intricate depictions of birds, animals and faces and Yaya’s style more whimsical.
The exhibition will be made up of about 40 designs on paper as well as some displays of silicone ‘skin’ to give a more authentic representation of a tattoo. There will also be designs on clay to give a different perspective to the art. Individuals with impressive tattoos will also be joining visitors on the opening night so viewers can see first hand the artistry of Caz and Yaya.
The opening night takes place on 13th February from 5.30pm to 7.30pm at Avril’s Awardart Gallery at Shop 13b Caymanian Village (next to Absolutely Fabulous) in George Town. Artwork will be available for sale. The exhibition runs until 13th March 2019.