First of All,
Immense gratitude to the Earth on which our town is built; For the strength of the stone that bears our weight and the sea that convened and fed such a novel and dynamic convergence of cultures.
May our efforts to create beauty and spread joy, feed that which has birthed and fed us.
Gratitude to our ancestors that built and lived here together so that we may enjoy this complicated knot in the net of human habitation. May our efforts to contribute to the tale, be pleasing to them and bring honour and healing to the great lineages that have been drawn to this place.
And Finally, gratitude for the local living; The vibrant nutters, out-of-the-box thinkers, freedom fighters, ganja masters, stoic Bampies and solid Nans. For the merchant sailors, energetic entrepreneurs, scientists and last, but certainly not least, the down-on-luck.
Which leads us to Vere Street.
Often dismissed by the rest of the Vale (of Glamorgan), Vere Street is a gobby place full of dark and open humour. It’s the home to strong, old and hard-working families, living side-by-side with the occupants of half-way houses for recently released criminals and supported accommodation for drug addicts. It makes for a lively mix, but I’ve come to appreciate the loud bluntness and radical acceptance, by which our community is tied together.
And one thing is for sure, some of the tribe around here, love their tattoos.
Barry, as a lively coastal hub for the last 250+ years, has a rich tradition of tattooing, including being home to one of Britain's most illustrious tattoo artists, Jessie Knight. The daughter of Circus performer, Wild-West gun-slinging celebrity, and tattoo legend Leonard Knight; settled in Barry during the golden age of this town's Coal Port past. My Bamps still wears a classic snake that she tattooed as an elderly lady, for him during his Merchant Navy Days.
In contemporary Barry Tattooing, I would like to mention and honour Lee Clements, who set the professional standard for tattooing here for over two decades. A pioneer who lived the example of the international travelling tattooist, attending conventions, representing Wales in the Tattoo Artist's Union and picking up awards the world over. His legacy lives on in the knowledge he shared so freely, and many of us are better artists for knowing him.
Rest in Peace
So where do we fit into all of this?
Tattooing here since 2012 has placed me in the the heart of this wild microcosm and through sincere dedication to my craft and clients, the people have opened up to me in unexpectedly lush ways.
Here, I’ve had a solid base in which to grow and venture forth from, in the firm knowledge that no matter how many awards I win or how distant the guest spot, I can always count on a local to keep me grounded; Usually by virtue of their not having direct experience of the intricacies of modern tattoo culture and the fact that it bears little comparison to the deeper personal connections we've forged while at the needle. It's a humbling practice that I treasure.
2014 was the year that things really clicked into place, changing to a private studio so that I could give a better experience. The freedom of going private also allowed me to travel more frequently to learn about new techniques and materials from some of the greatest talents in the world. Several years of learning and then stopping to let this knowledge percolate has made a potent brew, full of purpose and vision. Over time, our earnest ethos, attracted like-minds and the business thrived.
To any of my legends that have reached this far, you'll know who you are; Thank you for your friendship and awesome projects at 55 Vere Street over the last 8 years. All the way through this build, I've been guided by that special formula that we found in the old shop and I hope that the new changes are to your liking! Please, if you have any feedback, get in touch!
VST is now firmly anchored in the centre of a wonderful community of legendary individuals; our story intertwining with so many vibrant threads of life, marking momentous occasions and serving as a powerful tool for healing and self-expression.
And so here goes! We've been slowly but surely building our forever home, to house a team that's grown organically from one, to six. From just myself, we went on to include a brilliant shop manager, a hugely eager and committed apprentice, to then find two other brilliant local professional artists with over a decade of experience between them, and finally, a Piercing Scientist!
We also house a budding community Art project - All Hands On Deck -which promises to share tools with local creatives, giving space to exciting, passionate huemans. Originally a brain child of Joe and Charl, this project was rejuvenated by a call to action by Amanda Sage and JoeBob Merritt and has been inspired and supported by our amazing Vision Train community. The bravery to live bold, beautiful lives in the face of such intense times, has been an amazing source of strength this last year.
So, onwards! Deep gratitude from the bottom of my heart to everyone that supports our mission and journey. The future feels electric as we dream into the years ahead, diving ever deeper into our craft, and our community.