Henderson took a number of photographs of this young man at the tattoo parlour, having first his arm and then chest inked with traditional nautical designs. Tattooing had particular superstitions and customs associated with it for sailors, and also began slowly gaining popularity among non-seafarers in the 1950s.
This print is taken from Henderson’s original negative, reproduced here for the first time in print format. In keeping with vintage photography, it features minor imperfections such as scratches and blemishes, and a small additional credit line on the image.
The largest size variation we are able to offer this print in is 80 x 60 cm.
An unidentified man in a tattoo parlour
Date of work
Original: Black and white negative 5.5 x 5.5 cm Presented to Tate Archive by Stephen and Jo Henderson and the Henderson families, June 2010. © Nigel Henderson Estate
Nigel Henderson (1917 – 1985) was a British photographer and artist. In his early career he worked in avant-garde collages and paintings, exhibiting at the Guggenheim Jeun alongside Pablo Picasso. After serving as a pilot during the Second World War, he studied at the Slade School of Fine Art, where he formed a life-long friendship with Eduardo Paolozzi. Henderson took these photographs of the East End whilst recovering from the trauma of the war, and they capture a vibrant portrait of 1950s East London and its post-war community.