body painting

A fleeting work of art on a full motion canvas...body painting is becoming one of the hippest new art forms, gracing the bodies of dancers at some of London’s leading clubs.

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The art of adorning the body with paint has been practiced for thousands of years all over the world and it is still familiar to us today - from the faces of England supporters daubed with the flag of St George to images of New Guinea women in full tribal splendour.

But now body painting is becoming one of the hippest new art forms, gracing the bodies of dancers at some of the coolest clubs in London.

These flesh and blood sculptures take several hours and thousands of small brush strokes to transform into spectacular and often erotic works of art which last just for an evening.

It is perhaps the greatest appeal of the new body painting that it is a fleeting work of art on a full motion canvas. The dancer takes to the stage and gyrates through a kaleidoscope of coloured lighting. But tomorrow all that will be left of the original artwork - and the night out - will be in the memories of the transfixed audience.

The pictures on this page were taken at Camden’s Purple Turtle. The manager at the time said: “Body painting was a regular attraction on launch nights .

“Katz, one of our barmaids, volunteered to dance and was painted in bright coloured fluro stripes, which fitted well.

“For the launch of the live band evenings Jasmine, the body painter, was brought in again to transform Katz into the Larry Love (Alabama 3) theme. “Katz was a bit nervous when she saw the Alabama 3 logo, but the black and white stripes and distinctive symbol on her back looked amazing,” said the manager. The logo is a big afro-headed face with crossed rifles below.

“It’s something different, something sexy and verging on erotic.” she says. “It’s like nothing you’d see at your average bar and the patrons love it - they’re transfixed by Katz writhing on the podium, naked except for a g-string and the body paint. It looks fantastic!”

Body painter Jasmine learnt her art from her mother who is also a body and face painter in Cape Town. Jasmine has been coming to London to work for six months each summer for the last seven years. She works for promotions, or painting dancers “and sometimes for, say, a conference, when they just want something outrageous.”

Jasmine’s recent work (shown on the front cover) was painted using a pencil sized ink brush. Body painting usually takes about three hours to complete; She works with sponges for large areas of colour and brushes for more detailed work. She paints with high quality water based paint, kinder to the skin than acrylics or the greasepaint used for theatre make-up.

She dispels any fears people may have about Goldfinger-like episodes. Jasmine does paint the whole body but the paint still allows the skin to breathe. Her rates are negotiable.

Much of her work is spontaneous and it is always customised to her clients’ needs. She is often given a theme to work to.

The medium is unable to represent flowing clothes satisfactorily and therefore Jasmine uses iconography, motto and symbolism for, say, a mediaeval theme. This often requires quite detailed research.

She seems truly inspired by and open-minded about her work. We asked her how she feels about the painting being so temporary. Although she always has a photographic record, the interest is in that “you can change yourself for a day.” Every commission is different and she has never repeated her designs.

Photography captures the image of body painting and allows it to be displayed long after the original has washed away. Here we print some pieces of artwork that no longer exist. Dancer: Katz. Pictures by Richard Thomas. See more of his pictures at:
www.sandstormpromotions. co.uk/partypics

To buy books on Body Painting from Amazon click here - Books on body painting

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