SKIN DEEP: celebrating the intimate art of ink

NAS-Skin-Deep-Josh-photo-by-WadedThe LGBTI community has a long and varied history with tattoos. At a time when it was illegal to be out and proud, many LGBTI people tattooed their body to convey secret messages or as an act of defiance to authority.

For those who have been marked as ‘other’ for their gender and/or sexuality, the claiming of identity through tattoos has offered a powerful and cathartic ritual.

Curated by NAS Executive Producer and Skin Deep Curator Terese Casu, SKIN DEEP reveals intimate stories of LGBTQI people through their tattooed bodies. Running from 19 February to 7 March 2021, it has several components, presented as one integrated audience experience or as separate experiences.

“This is a fascinating and daring exploration of the significance and meaning of tattoos within the LGBTQI community,” says Casu. “Their participation is central to Skin Deep, as narrators, models, story tellers and performers, celebrating diversity, defiance and body art.”

“Audiences are not just observing but embarking on a journey of discovery within the old sandstone walls of the former Darlinghurst Gaol.”

SKIN DEEP Exhibition
Celebrated Sydney fashion photographer Waded uses her cutting-edge fashion portraiture skills to capture the artistry and personal stories of diverse tattooed bodies. The photographic exhibition will include historical images and the background of LGBTQI tattooed symbols used over the past century to convey political messages or reveal one’s identity.

The LGBTQI community are invited to contribute to the exhibition through an interactive story wall of images and stories about their first tattoo. Exhibition continues to Sunday 7 March at the Cell Block Theatre, NAS.

SKIN DEEP Performance
Powerhouse Director and Choreographer Meryl Tankard will work with community members and acclaimed aerialist The Amazing Ari to present a beautiful performance of movement and dance to slowly reveal the performers’ hidden body tattoos, unveiling secrets and stories from the past.

The performance will be accompanied by early 19th-Century arias of unrequited love and loss by The Song Company. Performances take place 19, 20, 21, 26, 27 and 28 February at the Cell Block Theatre, NAS.

SKIN DEEP will build an online global community of LGBTQI tattooed bodies, photographs and stories of their first tattoo. This will be self-published by community members through a controlled registration site, then curated and designed for a dedicated SKIN DEEP website.

Curator: Terese Casu Choreographer: Meryl Tankard Artists: Basjia Almaan, The Amazing Ari, Blake Lawrence, Tommy Misa, Geoff Ostling, Diana Popovska, Shahmen Photographer: Waded Music: The Song Company Electronic Music: Bob Scott Project Music Director: Francis Greep Assistant Choreographer: Cloe Fournier Creative Producer: Dino Dimitriadis Concept Development: Terese Casu, Greg Clarke

National Art School, Corner Forbes and Burton Streets, Darlinghurst
Exhibition continues to 7 March 2021 – free entry
Performances: 19, 20, 21, 26, 27 and 28 February – bookings required

For more information, visit: or for details.

Image: Josh – photo by Waded

Note: 18+ body nudity will be included as part of the exhibition and performances