Commercial Photographer Robin Cowings is the Edge of Humanity Magazine contributor of this social documentary photography. These images are from his project ‘The New Flesh‘. To see Robin’s body of work click on any image.
Gordon Jowett The friends who know I’ve got them (tattoos) approve; but of course I move in circles where most of the people would be horrified if they thought I was tattooed. I was a school teacher, now I’m a guide around York Minster. But of course when I’m dressed nobody knows.
Ian Nash My mum flatly refuses to acknowledge the fact that I have my tongue pierced, so I occasionally show it to her just to annoy her. She doesn’t like the spikes either, but my dad is fine with it. He’s actually quite happy about me going into something like this. My sister has nicknamed me “The Freak”. Thanks Liz.
Peter Hill I enjoy the actual piercing; having the needle going through the skin and flesh, then having the jewellery there afterwards. I like the sensation that you get from the chains pulling at the jewellery. I attach chains all of my piercings and when I dance and move about they pull and I enjoy that.
The aim of this body of work is to explore the domain of body modification, ranging from the piercing of body parts such as the face, torso and genitalia with jewelry, to tattooing in its many styles, origins and uses. The sailor’s tattoo as a sign of membership; the Yakuza use their tattoos to instill fear; and the symbolic tribal designs of ancient cultures are the origins of many contemporary body art practices.
Rob I love going to the tattooist; it’s a real occasion. I always remember every tattoo that I’ve had and the sort of day I spent getting it. The KLF pyramid and ghetto blaster with the word “dub” underneath represents a time in my life and the things I was going through. Cancer treatment and stuff like that. The KLF’s music helped me through that, so I ended up getting the tattoo.
Vicki Bain My dad thinks I should join the circus as the tattooed lady. It had a very negative effect on my marriage. My husband said that my body was his property and I was not going to be tattooed. I love watching people with tattoos and the wonderful things that people can answer their bodies with, representing some aspect of their personality. I’m really into that and I can’t understand it when people are so closed minded about it.
Rob It’s just another form of body adornment. Just the same as having your hair different or wearing different clothes. It’s a way of expressing the way you feel about things. The one on my leg is a symbol I found in a book. It’s based on a Rastafarian symbol. It’s a Star of David with a number three which represents the Trinity. I added to this an Eye of Horus.
Tony Flynn When I was on holiday in Devon a little boy in a swimming pool pointed to me and said “Look at that man’s t-shirt, Dad”.
The intention of my work is not to simply produce visually attractive or powerful photographs that examine surfaces, but to try to “get under the skin” of the people, to explore their desires and motivations (whether political, sociological, tribal, psychological or sexual). What are they trying to communicate with their own deeply personal modifications and why have they chosen their bodies as the canvas for their expression?
James Glover The tattooing and piercing community is more like a family. Not a close-knit family, but they have a lot more in common than say the average man in the street. At tattoo conventions you can bump into somebody that you’ve never met before that’s from a totally different walk of life, but because he’s got tattoos you can sit and talk to him and there is no barrier at all. You become very friendly very quickly and you can understand that person much better than somebody, I don’t know, not that isn’t tattooed, but there’s something there. A connection. It makes you hit on.
Ferank Manseed The tattoo goes on, and that day it on it looks like it’s been painted on. Then you go through some kind of healing, scabby fears. It’s almost like a butterfly Christmas kind of thing where you have to go through this stage to become the beautiful thing it’s going to be. It depends on you how you treat this chrysalis– if you abuse it, leave it out in the sun, get salt water on it, get it dirty, it’s not going to be a nice tattoo you know. You have to take care of it.