Embroidery is far more akin to tattooing than to, say, knitting. I'm not trying to say that embroidery is cooler than knitting. No way! But it is a different creature. Early embroidery took the place of tattoos with decorative symbols appearing on clothes in the same places as they appeared on the flesh. Tattoos have been called 'flesh embroidery'.
So now things have come full circle, with embroiderers again taking tattoos and applying them to fabric. The inspiration for this whitework is the most stunning piece of 'flesh embroidery' I have ever seen up close. I love old school tattoos for their raw style and classic symbolism and this lovely gentleman's arm is an example that deserves to be celebrated. And, in addition to being a walking work of art, he is a talented artist to boot. Check out his art here.
I wanted to stitch this in white to create a lace-like quality, to draw attention to the details of the needlework and the parallels between fiber of fabric and flesh. I wanted it to look, at first glance, like a tablecloth that any elderly lady may use to decorate her house. But nestled in the centre is a ghost of a tattooed arm.