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Mi m espite having to negotiate the rigours of replacement bus services and the other inevitable delays one has come to expect if travelling by train at weekends, when services seem reduced to those on par with transport provisions in third world countries, I eventually arrived in the sleepy village of Margaretting where the convention took place.

Tliis memorable event was organised by Marc, Steve and Chris from Skin Sorcerer Tattoo Studio in Maldon. This shop has been operating for over ten years and as such, is one of the longest established studios in Essex. Marc and the rest of the team regularly travel throughout the UK to attend and work at conventions, and they drew on this experience when deciding to stage a convention of their own.

Almost as soon as I exited the cab in which I had travelled from the station, 1 was greeted by Marc's wife, the lovely Tanya Bratz, (tanyabratz.com), who along with three other corseted beauties, welcomed me into the venue and served me with tea and snacks before escorting me on a tour of the two separate buildings, the Ivy Hill Hotel and Furze Banqueting Suite, all set amongst beautiful, landscaped extensive grounds, which were encompassed by the event.

As the sun continued to shine, the crowds continued to arrive, with numbers exceeding all expectations, ultimately doubling those expected. As I explored, I began to realise that the atmosphere here was unlike that of most conventions in that it was more informal, friendly and relaxed. Having spoken previously to the organisers during the planning stages, I knew that their remit was to make all of the visitors feel as if they had been really tnrivnr.EkitiiUep.co.uk ISSU6 136

As I explored, I began to realise that the atmosphere here was unlike that of most conventions in that it was more informal, friendly and relaxed.

welcomed and looked after tltroughout the day, and I would say, that, from my perspective, this was definitely achieved. This attention to detail far surpassed that which I have experienced at the majority of other conventions I have attended over the years and definitely made a difference in terms of my enjoyment of the event.

In exploring the tattooing areas which were consistently busy throughout the day, I become aware that this expo had attracted several award winning tattooists as well as being a brilliant showcase for the work of up and coming artists, especially those locally based. As such I thought it would beO

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interesting to document some of the work taking shape as the day progressed. One such tattoo was an impressive piece by Arran Burton on the lower leg of local body piercer, Dickie Smith, who underwent a marathon six-hour session. Dickie will hopefully feature in a Skin Deep profile later in the year.

Probably my favourite piece of the day was a wonderful and incredibly vibrant Mad Hatter leg piece inked by Julie Clarke, another local artist. Julie is the proprietor of Flaming Gun Tattoo Studio and has been tattooing for about twelve years, during which time she has amassed a rapidly increasing and loyal client base. The recipient of this particular tattoo was the suitably attired. Verity, who explained to me that she had been obsessed by Alice In Wonderland since she was a little girl. She went on to state that this piece had originally been intended for her arm, but on a smaller scale. However, when Verity and Julie went to see the recently released film starring Johnny as the Mad Hatter, they both decided that the design would work better as a larger scale leg piece.

After a break for lunch in the venu's restaurant, I decided to explore the grounds with. Tanya and the girls. I couldn't resist

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