Twin’s tattoos inspire sister’s art exhibition
‘‘It's totally changed my preconceived ideas about tattoos for the better.’’
There’s one sure-fire way you can tell Tracy Sexton and her identical twin sister apart.
While Sexton is a selfdescribed conservative, her sister Tara King has covered her body in ink, using tattoos to set her apart from her doppelganger.
It has prompted the Porirua woman to take a closer look at the tattoo art form - why people wear them and what happens when they no longer want them.
‘‘Not having any of my own put me in a position to look at it in a different way,’’ Tracy Sexton said.
The sisters grew up believing very different things about their ‘‘twin-ness,’’ she said.
‘‘I had always just assumed we were identical but she thought we weren’t.’’
A DNA test last year settled it once and for all. Once it was known what the women shared, genetically, Sexton wanted to look at what set them apart.
An art student at Whitireia Polytech, Sexton is halfway through a year’s project featuring photos of both tattoos and the people who wear them.
She is exhibiting her work in one of the city centre’s empty shops for four days, beginning on Thursday, as part of a council initiative to let artists and community groups use the spaces.
She interviewed and photographed 16 collectors, aged between 21 and 63 years, with tattoos that ranged from recently acquired to decades old.
Tattoo removal is featured as well. The photographing of people getting rid of unwanted ink is almost more personal than photos of people happy with their body art, Sexton said. A portrait of her sister is included in the exhibition, which sees the images printed on large fabric hangings with quotes from the subjects included. On the opening night, a tattoo artist will demonstrate the art, inking her husband before onlookers.
It has been a learning curve for Sexton who, despite loving her twin’s tattoos, admitted she began the project with a rather negative opinion of people who wear ink.
‘‘It’s totally changed my preconceived ideas about tattoos for the better. I feel like my guard’s been let down.’’
One surprising discovery she made was the healing power of tattoos.
‘‘They can help people through violence or abuse or some other trauma,’’ she said, citing a comment from one of her subjects as an example.
‘‘How can I hate my body when I love what’s on it?’’