Art intimidating life tattoo

Geoff says he has a "verbal agreement" with a director at the NGA, which is the best assurance he can get before unnamed parties flay the skin from his body, wrap it around a fiberglass mannequin, leave it to cure, and then present the leather suit to curators. He was a 42-year-old history teacher when the artist e X de Medici gave him his first tattoo.

But there is a hitch: no-one has ever done this before. The closest thing to what is called a "complete flay" are ancient war trophies. "Thinking about your own death is a fairly confronting thing to do," says de Medici, who has gone on to become famous. Her work sells for hundreds of thousands of dollars.

"Perhaps he'll have to work that out for himself."Others may follow Geoff's lead.

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Two jovial shirtless grey-beards on a Sydney sidewalk. It's just the body you once had and no longer need."Tattoos are often seen as intimidating.

"It's a bit like leaving your heart or kidneys or some other organ of your body to somebody else," says Geoff about the prospect of one day being flayed. But rather than being totemic symbols of aggressive masculinity, Geoff's tattoos, as well as Dewaine's, seem to express the fragility of their bodies.

Years later he got the eagle lasered."I didn't have any loyalty to that," he says. Two years ago he emailed Geoff after seeing a photo online.

He had hankerings for a bodysuit something similar.

It is a sunny day of cricket at the park and kids squealing at the local pool.

Geoff's mate and houseguest, Dewaine, nicknamed totally tattooed bear, shambles into a living room dense with books and paintings.

She says she has received only a few emails from people interested in preserving tattoos. "It seems strange wanting to take it off and preserve it. Some kind of orange monkey, possibly an orangutan, sits on his left shoulder, (to the right of the lion with flaming orange wings), concealing a much older tattoo.

Once tattoos are removed from a body their meanings proliferate.""It really depends where you are in the world, whether you still own your tattoos or not."Totally tattooed bears' real name is Dewaine Fisher. When he was 18 he had the Great Seal of the United States tattooed on his body: an eagle holding a bunch of leaves in one talon and a quiver of arrows in the other.

"There's one or two complete flays but these tend to come from contexts of war," she says. "They're grotesque in a way.""It would take a skilled anatomist to take the skin off.

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