or just visiting, and the reasons tc th Saia ,; . Xie they can get the chance SUlves. some like big ¡«^g^ —nthl. iike.oca!

' s it because it's super busy? Or because it's on the doorstep or could it just possibly be something else entirely... when I first started doing conventions way back in the early nineties there were only a handful during the year, . which all led up to the famed Dunstable expo at the end of the summer. At this time all of the shows had one thing in common...

everyone was part of a big extended family, it was like a family and friends reunion. Over the years a lot of this has been lost and more and more shows these days are a commercial venture, as long as the organisers make their money from the tattoo booths, the traders and punters through the door, they don't really give a toss about anything else...however there are still a few shows that aren't like that, that are not put on for financial gain but for a chance for like-minded people and friends to get together and have a good time. As long as the organisers have covered the cost of putting on the event they are happy, one show such as this is Gillingham.

This year saw Gillingham's 10th anniversary, on the 30th & 31st May, and to mark the occasion there was a pre convention fancy dress party on the Saturday night, unfortunately I couldn't make the Saturday night, but from what I heard and the photos I saw, a good night was had by all.

I got down to Gillingham on the Sunday morning and got everything set up before going around to see who was there. As I walked round 1 was also thinking that it didn't seem possible that 10 years had passed since the first time I had walked round that hail, where the hell has the time gone? I was brought back to reality when I heard the sound of a machine start up... it was still nearly

Emma Aurora Tattoo

an hour prior to the doors opening, I went to investigate...it was EmmaKierzek from Aurora Tattoo making an early start on what was going to be a fairly large piece. Emma's a lovely person and she seems to get really nice customers as well; who could ask for more than that? After stopping to have a quick chat to a few more people (sometimes my work is so hard!) the doors were open and the hall started to fill tip with people keen and eager to look round or have some work done. It wasn't long before pretty much everyone was working iAnvw.sitibEUep.co.uk teeue 136

Emma's a lovely person and she seems to get really nice customers as well; who could ask for more than that?

and I got to start picking out some people to photograph After a fairly productive afternoon which seemed to zoom by, the hall started to empty out and slowly people started to close down for the night. This meant it was time to book into my room, have a quick freshen up and go down to the bar and restaurant to have something to eat and a couple of drinks, just to be sociable, you understand. This is also a good time to be able to sit and chat, which ended up with me and Andy Blair reminiscing about the good ol' days, haha anyone would think we were in our 80s if they'd heard us. With any show there are always a few people who are the life and soul of the party, and this night was no different. There was some poor bloke who'd had one too many and fallen asleep in a chair in the bar, with the remains of his kebab next to him on the table. I'm not gonna name anyone but someone thought the pitta bread would make him a good hat,;?

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I know how hard it is to judge and believe me this was a difficult call in several categories.

didn't they, M... It's a shame I didn't have a camera with me, but it was funny, I knew that the next day was going to be busy, so I had a reasonably early night.

The King Charles hotel where the convention is held has gone through a series of upgrades over the years and this year was no exception, they've had new bathrooms put in every room and more work done in the main breakfast dining room. I wonder how it'll look in another ten years?

I was up and doing my shoot early the next morning in the new patio garden in the hotel, the weather wasn't great but at least it wasn't too cold or raining. By the time the doors opened at 12 noon everybody was champing at the bit and witliin half an hour 1 was busy in the studio, I must say that the standard of work coming through was superb, there was so much good new work it was hard to keep up with it all, luckily as with previous years, the judging was being done in the same room as my studio space so I managed to capture most of the people I wanted but hadn't got during the judging, I think the amount of people entering the competitions was down a bit this year as was the attendance, but that may have been because the Bournemouth show was on the same weekend, which was a bit naughty of them as Gillingham has had this weekend for years... never the less there was still a good number in every category and I know for

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Best Tattoo Artist

a fact that in some cases there was literally only one or two points separating the top two or three. I know how hard it is to judge and believe me this was a difficult call in several categories. Also the judges here have a really good rapport both with each other and sometimes taking the rise out of the contestants. It's just another aspect of the fun and friendly nature of this show.

After the main judging there was a break for an hour or so before the judging for the best of show, which gave the artists a bit more time to finish pieces they were still working on and for me to grab a few last people I'd missed earlier. As the judging for best of show started so did a band on the main stage, I managed to get the last couple of people who'd just had work finished and then catch some of the band. I must apologise here as I don't get their name but they were a superb ska cover band, doing a mixture of all sorts including Madness and Bad Manners. They finished with a great cover of Madness's Night Boat To Cairo, and the girl on saxophone was spot on. It was then time for the award ceremony and there were trophies for both artist and collector. Once the awards were given out people started to drift off home, apart from the real party animals, who then retired to the bar to start all over again.

There has been a rumour going around after last year's show that this, the 10th, would be the last one, well I'm very happy to report that is isn't the case and the GiUingham show will be back at the Bank Holiday weekend at the end of May 2011 so don't miss it. I'd like to extend my thanks to Paul & Jan, Darren the "HULK" Stares (sorry Daz) and all the guys and gaLs who hel] put another great weekend together.

Kylee Kross

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