Tribute Ink Exhibition Touring the Country

For centuries the military community has used tattoos to commemorate comrades and loved ones who have made the ultimate sacrifice whilst serving their country, as well as to mark their service, achievements and sense of belonging to a unique vocation. The Royal British Legion has created an exhibition, Tribute Ink, to shine a light on the powerful and poignant stories behind the tattoos of people in the Armed Forces, and it launched at the National Army Museum in London tonight. The exhibition is free to everyone and runs in various locations until 27 May 2020.

Current service personnel featured include Lance Corporal Pickman, 27, who is a Combat Medic Technician with 1st Battalion Irish Guards, based in Hounslow. His tattoos honour his own family ancestors who served in the British Army during the First World War.

Lance Corporal Pickman said:
"The tattoo of the Essex Regiment Cap Badge is my most important one as it's my personal tribute to my family who served in WW1 and WW2. It was inspired by both my Great Great Grandparents who were in the regiment during WW2 and I used to hear all their stories when I was growing up, this is my way of remembering them all year round. I also have 'In arduis fidelis' on my arm, which is the Royal Army Medical Corps' motto which means 'faithful in adversity', this is particularly poignant as a medic, it's always about putting others first."
Army Veteran Paul Glazebrook, 36, also features with a back-piece with six dog tags containing the names of fallen comrades he served alongside on Operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Tribute Ink features four key themes; Rethinking Remembrance, Remembering the Fallen, A Badge of Belonging and Marking the Memories. London is the first leg of a nationwide tour which includes amongst its locations Birmingham, Newcastle and Cardiff. The Royal Hospital Chelsea, next door to the National Army Museum, has contributed exclusively to this leg of the exhibition. Four Chelsea Pensioners feature their personal stories, alongside that of their Regimental Sergeant Major, a veteran with 24 years Army service who has extensive tattoos.

Former Household Cavalry Officer Alex Owen, who now works as Military Liaison for The Royal British Legion said:

"We would urge everyone to come and see the inspiring modern stories of Remembrance living on the skin, and in the hearts, of our servicemen and women today."

Renowned photographer, Charlie Clift was given unprecedented access to military-inspired locations to capture service personnel and veterans for Tribute Ink. He said:

"It was a huge privilege to be able to work so closely with the Armed Forces and veterans and hear their stories first hand. The project has changed my perception of Remembrance completely - it doesn't have to be done in silence on a sombre Sunday, people can remember in a million different ways. I hope my pictures can help honour those who serve and encourage others to remember in new ways."

Alongside Clift's photographs are life-sized replicas of some of the tattoos, which have been meticulously transferred onto 3D sculptures.

Visitors and members of the public are invited to upload their own images of their tattoos and share the stories behind them via the Legion website and social media using #tributeink.

So far more than 200 people have shared their tattoos and the stories behind them this way.

Open at the National Army Museum in Chelsea from January 31 until April 17, 2020, the exhibition is free of charge. The museum will be hosting various events throughout the run, including a late-opening on Wednesday March 4, 2020 which will feature a panel discussion on how tattoos act as a sign of personal remembrance, short talks with serving soldiers, live music from the British Army Rock band, drawing classes and more.