Tattoo exhibition thwarted by riots - but the show will go on

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

Celebrity tattooist Louis Molloy's debut tattoo art exhibition was ruined when rioters smashed the gallery windows. Matilda Battersby reports

Louis Molloy, the tattooist responsible for the angel motif on David Beckham’s torso, should have been celebrating a crucial inroad for tattoos into the mainstream art world tomorrow at the opening of a gallery exhibition of his ink designs. But when thugs kicked in the windows of the Generation Pop gallery near Manchester Piccadilly Station during Tuesday night’s riots the show was called off.

When interviewed Molloy last week, prior to the random storms of violence which have since buffeted the UK, the self-taught body artist was keen to stress that tattoos are no-longer the hallmark of gangs and outsiders. “Part of the appeal of tattoos is the bad boy image, of course. Some people will always respond in an uppity way about it and be a bit prejudiced. But tattoos are becoming more mainstream and you see them a lot more in day-to-day than you used to,” he said.

Tattoos are often used in fiction as a means of identifying a bad guy, or person outside of social norms. From Stieg Larsson’s ubiquitous The Girl with a Dragon Tattoo to the comically tattooed knuckles of the Blues Brothers, it is usually criminals and the violent who are the (literally) marked men (and women) on film and in books. This is sometimes true in newspapers too. Molloy says: “In the media tattoos = criminals. It’s amazing that sometimes you can read a report in the newspaper which will go ‘Blah blah blah tattooed thug, rapist...whatever.’ Dr Harold Shipman was biggest serial killer this country has ever known and he wasn’t tattooed. What does that tell you?”

It is ironic that an exhibition which would have embodied the new wave of enthusiasm and respect that tattoo art can command was victim to mindless criminality.

Anthony Marks, Generation Pop’s owner, said: "We have been preparing for this exhibition for months with it shaping up to be a big event for the gallery and Manchester. The gallery itself suffered only minor damage compared to some of the other destruction we have seen. It is the right thing to do to postpone until 22 September.”

In our interview Molloy remarked on the recent use of tattoos in a promotional video by the Spanish tourist board which he says is an indication of body art’s increasingly positive image. He says tattoos can even help with integration and community spirit. While this is not implausible, I doubt David Cameron will jump on this as an example of the road to Big Society.

“I know personally of a policeman who was involved in a hostage situation and it was this policeman’s tattoos which broke the ice with the perpetrator and eventually diffused the situation. The thing about tattoos is that anybody can have one and you find that there are people tattooed from all walks of life and it’s a good common ground.”

Designs have come a long way from hearts saying “Mother” and scantily clad ladies stereotypically gracing the forearms of sailors, as a digital sneak preview of Molly’s exhibition ( click here ) will attest.

When Molloy left school his “financial situation” prevented him from attending art college so he opened a tattoo studio and honed his craft by practising (“On paper, not skin. You can’t make any mistakes then, obviously”.) His skill gained him celebrity walking adverts including several members of the Spice Girls, David Beckham, all members of Boyzone and boxer Ricky Hatton. He even starred in the Discovery Channel’s reality show London Ink and has launched a menswear range.

Molloy is a one man bandwagon for getting tattoos “integrated” into everyday life. “Some people seem to think it’s alright to be really rude or abusive about people who are tattooed. But if you flip that context into race, creed, culture or religion then those people could be put in prison for it. But they do it anyway. Personally, I couldn’t care less. People who think like that probably aren’t very intelligent.”

The postponement of the show until late September will be a blow for Molloy’s celebrity supporters (his PR tells me Wayne Rooney was among the confirmed launch attendees), but hopefully by the time it comes around the streets of Manchester will have been patched up and the exhibition can be received as it was intended.

Art of Lou Molloy will be on show at the Generation Pop Art Gallery, Manchester from the revised date of 22 September,

Arts and Entertainment
Beyonce, Boris Johnson, Putin, Nigel Farage, Russell Brand and Andy Murray all get the Spitting Image treatment from Newzoids
tvReview: The sketches need to be very short and very sharp as puppets are not intrinsically funny
Arts and Entertainment
Despite the controversy it caused, Mile Cyrus' 'Wrecking Ball' video won multiple awards
musicPoll reveals over 70% of the British public believe sexually explicit music videos should get ratings
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment
Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister and Ian Beattie as Meryn Trant in the fifth season of Game of Thrones

Arts and Entertainment

book review
Arts and Entertainment
It's all in the genes: John Simm working in tandem with David Threlfall in 'Code of a Killer'

TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Far Right and Proud: Reggies Yates' Extreme Russia

TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Kanye West was mobbed in Armenia after jumping into a lake

Arts and Entertainment
The show suffers from its own appeal, being so good as to create an appetite in its viewers that is difficult to sate in a ten episode series

Game of Thrones reviewFirst look at season five contains some spoilers
Arts and Entertainment
Judi Dench and Kevin Spacey on the Red Carpet for 2015's Olivier Awards

Ray Davies' Sunny Afternoon scoops the most awards

Arts and Entertainment
Proving his metal: Ross Poldark (played by Aidan Turner in the BBC series) epitomises the risk-taking spirit of 18th-century mine owners

Poldark review
Arts and Entertainment
Eddie Redmayne is reportedly favourite to play Newt Scamander in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

Arts and Entertainment
Tom Hardy stars in dystopian action thriller Mad Max: Fury Road

Arts and Entertainment
Josh, 22, made his first million from the game MinoMonsters

Grace Dent

Channel 4 show proves there's no app for happiness
Disgraced Top Gear presenter Jeremy Clarkson
Arts and Entertainment
Game face: Zoë Kravitz, Bruce Greenwood and Ethan Hawke in ‘Good Kill’

film review

Arts and Entertainment
Living like there’s no tomorrow: Jon Hamm as Don Draper in the final season of ‘Mad Men’

TV review

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

    Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

    A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
    Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

    Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

    The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
    How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

    How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

    Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
    From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

    The wars that come back to haunt us

    David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
    Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

    Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

    A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
    Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

    UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

    Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
    John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

    ‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

    Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
    Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

    Let the propaganda wars begin - again

    'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
    Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

    Japan's incredible long-distance runners

    Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
    Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

    Tom Drury: The quiet American

    His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace
    You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

    You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

    Dave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
    Beige is back: The drab car colours of the 1970s are proving popular again

    Beige to the future

    Flares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's dishes highlight the delicate essence of fresh cheeses

    Bill Granger cooks with fresh cheeses

    More delicate on the palate, milder, fresh cheeses can also be kinder to the waistline
    Aston Villa vs Liverpool: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful,' says veteran Shay Given

    Shay Given: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful'

    The Villa keeper has been overlooked for a long time and has unhappy memories of the national stadium – but he is savouring his chance to play at Wembley
    Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own - Michael Calvin

    Michael Calvin's Last Word

    Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own