8th September 2018 - 1st December 2018

The Art of Self Expression is an engaging look at the contemporary history of facial hair and tattoos. It explores how facial hair and tattoos have been influenced by wider changes in British society and culture, and tells the individual stories and lifestyle choices connected to facial hair and tattoos in Somerset.

Curator Bethan Murray explains: “The exhibition looks at how for centuries people have used facial hair and body art to make statements about themselves.

“The exhibition uses collections and imagery to trace the history of facial hair and tattoos and their changing meanings and associations.”

An important source of information has been the prisoner description books from Wilton and Ilchester Gaols which often describe distinctive tattoos. They include birds, mermaids and women as well as a flower pot design worn by a Taunton prisoner in 1841. For the exhibition, Weston tattoo artists Josh Hingston and Josh Burgess of Next Level Tattoo Studio were commissioned to re-create versions of the 19th-century designs.

The exhibition also explores how facial hair styles have varied according to religion, culture and social pressures from the 1800s till now. From Georgian whiskers to the hippy culture of the ’60s and ’70s and hipsters today, the exhibition traces the trends in male grooming through historic and contemporary photography.

Normal museum entry fees apply.

Dates and locations

Somerset Rural Life Museum
  • Saturday, 8th September 2018, 10:00 - 5:00