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 independent.co.uk 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, www.generationpop.co.uk

Arts and Entertainment
Joel Edgerton, John Turturro and Christian Bale in Exodus: Gods and Kings
film Ridley Scott reveals truth behind casting decisions of Exodus
Arts and Entertainment
An unseen image of Kurt Cobain at home featured in the film 'Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck'
filmThe singers widow and former bandmates have approved project
Arts and Entertainment
Jake Quickenden and Edwina Currie are joining the I'm A Celebrity...Get Me Out Of Here! camp
tv
Arts and Entertainment
George Mpanga has been shortlisted for the Critics’ Choice prize
music
Arts and Entertainment
Roisin, James and Sanjay in the boardroom
tvReview: This week's failing project manager had to go
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Carrie Hope Fletcher
booksFirst video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books
Arts and Entertainment
Damien Hirst
artCoalition's anti-culture policy and cuts in local authority spending to blame, says academic
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
A comedy show alumni who has gone on to be a big star, Jon Stewart
tvRival television sketch shows vie for influential alumni
Arts and Entertainment
Jason goes on a special mission for the queen
tvReview: Everyone loves a CGI Cyclops and the BBC's Saturday night charmer is getting epic
Arts and Entertainment
Image has been released by the BBC
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Will there ever be a Friends reunion?
TV
News
Harry Hill plays the Professor in the show and hopes it will help boost interest in science among young people
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
A Van Gogh sold at Sotheby’s earlier this month
art
Arts and Entertainment

MusicThe band accidentally called Londoners the C-word

Arts and Entertainment
It would 'mean a great deal' to Angelina Jolie if she won the best director Oscar for Unbroken

Film 'I've never been comfortable on-screen', she says

Arts and Entertainment
Winnie the Pooh has been branded 'inappropriate' in Poland
books
Arts and Entertainment
Lee Evans is quitting comedy to spend more time with his wife and daughter

comedy
Arts and Entertainment
American singer, acclaimed actor of stage and screen, political activist and civil rights campaigner Paul Robeson (1898 - 1976), rehearses in relaxed mood at the piano.
filmSinger, actor, activist, athlete: Paul Robeson was a cultural giant. But prejudice and intolerance drove him to a miserable death. Now his story is to be told in film...
Arts and Entertainment
Taylor Swift is dominating album and singles charts worldwide

music
Arts and Entertainment
Kieron Richardson plays gay character Ste Hay in Channel 4 soap Hollyoaks

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Midge Ure and Sir Bob Geldof outside the Notting Hill recording studios for Band Aid 30

music
Arts and Entertainment
Look out: Broad shoulders take Idris Elba’s DCI John Luther a long way
tvIdris Elba will appear in two special episodes for the BBC next year
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

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

    Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

    Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

    It's in all our interests to look after servicemen and women who fall on hard times, say party leaders
    Millionaire Sol Campbell wades into wealthy backlash against Labour's mansion tax

    Sol Campbell cries foul at Labour's mansion tax

    The former England defender joins Myleene Klass, Griff Rhys Jones and Melvyn Bragg in criticising proposals
    Nicolas Sarkozy returns: The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?

    Sarkozy returns

    The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?
    Is the criticism of Ed Miliband a coded form of anti-Semitism?

    Is the criticism of Miliband anti-Semitic?

    Attacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But is the criticism more sinister?
    Ouija boards are the must-have gift this Christmas, fuelled by a schlock horror film

    Ouija boards are the must-have festive gift

    Simon Usborne explores the appeal - and mysteries - of a century-old parlour game
    There's a Good Girl exhibition: How female creatives are changing the way women are portrayed in advertising

    In pictures: There's a Good Girl exhibition

    The new exhibition reveals how female creatives are changing the way women are portrayed in advertising
    UK firm Biscuiteers is giving cookies a makeover - from advent calendars to doll's houses

    UK firm Biscuiteers is giving cookies a makeover

    It worked with cupcakes, doughnuts and macarons so no wonder someone decided to revamp the humble biscuit
    Can SkySaga capture the Minecraft magic?

    Can SkySaga capture the Minecraft magic?

    It's no surprise that the building game born in Sweden in 2009 and now played by millions, has imitators keen to construct their own mega money-spinner
    The King's School is way ahead of the pack when it comes to using the latest classroom technology

    Staying connected: The King's School

    The school in Cambridgeshire is ahead of the pack when it comes to using the latest classroom technology. Richard Garner discovers how teachers and pupils stay connected
    Christmas 2014: 23 best women's perfumes

    Festively fragrant: the best women's perfumes

    Give a loved one a luxe fragrance this year or treat yourself to a sensual pick-me-up
    Arsenal vs Borussia Dortmund: Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain celebrates century with trademark display of speed and intuition

    Arsenal vs Borussia Dortmund

    The Ox celebrates century with trademark display of speed and intuition
    Billy Joe Saunders vs Chris Eubank Jnr: When two worlds collide

    When two worlds collide

    Traveller Billy Joe Saunders did not have a pampered public-school upbringing - unlike Saturday’s opponent Chris Eubank Jnr
    Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Drifting and forgotten - turning lives around for ex-soldiers

    Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Turning lives around for ex-soldiers

    Our partner charities help veterans on the brink – and get them back on their feet
    Putin’s far-right ambition: Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU

    Putin’s far-right ambition

    Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU
    Tove Jansson's Moominland: What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?

    Escape to Moominland

    What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?