Tattooseum (GNW 18/5/09: Strange But True)

Retired history teacher Geoff Ostling has pledged to donate his entire tattooed skin as a work of art. It’ll be perfect for a tattooseum. That’s right, tattooseum. I just made that up.

They’ll take the skin off him once they club him to death on the ice floes. It’s just their way.

The gallery has agreed to accept the skin, but only if they can skin him themselves. That’s half the fun!

Taxidermists say it will a challenge to preserve the tattoo unharmed, but essentially it would be no different to skinning an animal. Except you throw away the head.

Experts say that skinning the man will be no different to skinning an animal. And his meat will be just as tender.

Of course now that the tattoo’s complete, it’s best we grab the skin now. Wouldn’t want it to degrade.

All very well if he dies of decapitation. Skin cancer – not so good.

The tattoo is based around the theme of “all the flowers of a Sydney garden”, and his B.O. is just as fragrant! / and is great substitute if for some reason you’re unable to see a real garden.

The tattoo is based around the theme of “all the flowers of a Sydney garden”. And it’s totally realistic – because, as you’ll know if you’ve ever peered into a Sydney garden, if you look amongst the flowers and leaves, you’ll see a naked hairy eccentric.

It’s beautiful. If you like your art old, hairy, and alive. / old, wrinkly, and with odd tufts of hair. / old, hairy, and kitschy as fuck.

Of course, it’s not really the tattooed skin that interests the gallery. It’s just the sadistic joy of getting an old man flayed.

After all, who doesn’t want a piece of art made from human skin? It’s the perfect conversation piece at necrophiliac parties.

The gallery has agreed to accept the art, but only if he promises to rub lotion on his skin. And if he doesn’t, he’ll just have to stay in the well.

I hate to be rude, but all those flowers just make him look MORE like a garden gnome.

What a strange reversal. The garden is in the gnome.

The gallery doesn’t actually want to display the art – they want to sew it up and make a man costume. Interactive!

The gallery plans to frame the skin with his bones. Now that’s cool. / His skull will make a great plaque. / And they can make a plaque out of his teeth. / That way if the dead are raised he still stands some chance of reassembly.

The gallery has its fingers crossed that he dies by accidentally being trapped under a giant gold frame.

Though if he asks you to smell his rose, think twice. / Though if he asks you to stop and smell the roses, run.

He’s mostly covered in flowers, but there’s also a depiction of the Sydney Harbour Bridge, and, if you ask him nicely, he’ll show you his white elephant. / plums. / shrivelled old ladyfinger.

Of course the canvas may be somewhat spoilt if, as expected, he gets absolutely covered in bee-stings.

His skin will be put on display wrapped around a store mannequin. Definitely an improvement. / It’s how he’d like to be remembered.

The gallery was thrilled at Ostling’s bequest, and to preserve the artwork, immediately varnished his body and chopped off his head.

He thinks all the flowers on his body are great art, but he’s most excited about showing patrons of the gallery his brown rose.

Well, they can have my skin too. I don’t have any tatts, but I reckon it’s still a work of art.

He’s worked for 15 years with cult artist eX de Merci on a unique artistic collaboration where de Merci tattooed his entire body and Ostling tried to sit still and not squirm. / tried not to say “Ow.”

The gallery has said, “uh, yeah, sure we’ll take it. Once you’re dead, we promise we’ll take it straight away. Uh, yeah, thanks. Please don’t call any more.”

The gallery is thrilled for the bequest. They’ve been looking for an entrance hall rug. / Bearskin rugs are soooo tacky.

He’s also going to donate his organs to medicine, so get in touch if you want a transplanted kidney covered in daisies.

It’s interesting, I’d actually wanted to do exactly the same thing, only using the skin of Angelina Jolie.

He says there’s nothing to be squeamish about. Plenty of portraits have been painted on and books bound with human skin, and only occasionally do they unleash a blood-drenched orgy of unspeakable evil.

He says it isn’t nearly as creepy as it sounds, and promises that even if the preserved skin does result in some sort of horrible evil, he’ll sort it out by having his ghost re-enter his skinless corpse.

Of course it’s not the first time a full tattooed skin will go on display. There are several at the Comancheros clubhouse, taken from rival gang members. / It’s just the first time it’ll be taken with permission.

They’ll accept the skin if it’s all in one piece. They said they only want his one skin, not his four skin.

Getting the tattoos been a 15 year process, but it’s worth it just to get his genitals and arsehole into a gallery.

The National Gallery in Canberra will display Ostling’s skin, though he’s hoping he’ll be able to wrap his blood and organs in canvas.

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