Tribute Ink: The Powerful Stories Behind Military Tattoos

National Army Museum, Royal Hospital Road, Chelsea, London
Event has ended
This event ended on Friday 17th of April 2020


Venue Information

National Army Museum
Royal Hospital Road, Chelsea, SW3 4HT

Nearest Stations

Sloane Square 0.47 miles


Please note: as you will no doubt be aware COVID-19 is leading to many events being cancelled or postponed. Please check with the organisers of any event listed here to confirm it is going ahead as planned.

The Royal British Legion’s unique exhibition, Tribute Ink, which brings to life the powerful and poignant stories behind the tattoos of people in the Armed Forces, opens at the National Army Museum in London on January 31, 2020.

Tribute Ink showcases how the military community use tattoos to commemorate comrades and loved ones who have made the ultimate sacrifice whilst serving their country. The exhibition explores how serving personnel also use the art of tattooing to mark their service, achievements and sense of belonging to the Army, Navy and Royal Air Force.

Current service personnel featured include The Royal Navy’s Leading Hand Dani Cummings, 29 who designed a swallow and anchor whilst she was deployed in Afghanistan to symbolise where she had been and the sense of home. Also featured is Army Veteran Paul Glazebrook, 36 who has a backpiece with six dog tags containing the names of fallen comrades he served alongside on Operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Curated in partnership with the National Memorial Arboretum and supported by The Ministry of Defence, Tribute Ink begins its national tour in London at the home of the history of the British Army, the National Army Museum in Chelsea. The exhibition is free to everyone and runs until April 17, 2020.

The images in the exhibition are designed to immerse visitors in the powerful personal stories behind the tattoos. Renowned photographer, Charlie Clift was given unprecedented access to military-inspired locations to capture service personnel and veterans for Tribute Ink. These ranged from RAF Aircraft Hangars to the decks of Royal Navy vessels, British Army assault courses to barrack blocks.

Alongside Clift’s photographs are life-sized replicas of some of the tattoos, which have been meticulously transferred onto 3D sculptures. Featured, is Lance Corporal Josh Pickman, 27, who is a Combat Medic Technician with 1st Battalion Irish Guards, based in Hounslow. His tattoos honour his own family ancestors who served in the British Army during the First World War.

Tribute Ink features four key themes; Rethinking Remembrance, Remembering the Fallen, A Badge of Belonging and Marking the Memories. The Royal Hospital Chelsea, next door to the National Army Museum, is also contributing exclusively to this leg of the exhibition. Four Chelsea Pensioners feature their personal stories, alongside that of their Regimental Sergeant Major, a veteran with 24 years Army service who has extensive tattoos.

Visitors and members of the public are invited to upload their own images of their tattoos and share the stories behind them via the Legion website and social media using #tributeink. So far more than 200 people have shared their tattoos and the stories behind them this way.

The Legion provides life-long support to the Armed Forces community, like those featured in Tribute Ink, as well as veterans and family members, and is encouraging the general public to visit to find out more. Open at the National Army Museum in Chelsea from January 31 until April 17, 2020, the exhibition is free of charge. The museum will be hosting various events throughout the run, including a late-opening on Wednesday March 4, 2020 which will feature a panel discussion on how tattoos act as a sign of personal remembrance, short talks with serving soldiers, live music from the British Army Rock band, drawing classes and more.


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