Julia Mageau Gray, has been marking skin since 2013 and transitioned into this art form after many years as dance practitioner, choreographer and director of Sunameke Productions.
It was her role of film maker of the Sunameke Productions three part documentary; Tep Tok : Reading Between Our Lines, and the journey to raise awareness for the dying art form that moved her into a new role of skin marking artist.
She uses the 'Hand Poke' and "Hand Tap" method of making skin and was taught by a number of Pasifika Tattoo Artists namely Tihoti Mataura, Pat Morrow and Croc Tatau.
"As is my process...
before I mark someone; I look at the body as a whole and as our women did before us, choose where and what to be marked on the body.
Normally Papua New Guinean women bring their familial designs. It's a collaborative process where we talk and decide together; today’s world is highly focused on the 'I' as opposed to our old Pasifika way which I feel focused on the 'we'. The consultation process is a safe zone where myself and the person to be marked can have these discussions". - Julia
Talk with Julia.
Julia designs the marks and works out placement after speaking with you and getting to know your story. It's a personal, collaborative and open process. At the end of the consult you decide whether you wish to go ahead. Julia designs with Melanesian based patterns.
The designs are drawn freehand upon skin, the placement of the marks previously discussed during the first consult. Once the drawing is complete the marking begins. Each session can lasts up to 6 hrs, with Julia.
Julia with Vasa as stretcher, marks the skin using the hand tapping and hand poke method.
Bespoke and Familial designs.
Familial marks are designs that are from an individuals family. In Papua New Guinea these designs belong to the individuals family and is passed down. In Fiji familial designs often come from masi.
Bespoke marks are designed by Julia for the individual based on the consult and shared conversations. It is a collaborative process.
Frequently shared information.
These marks are about marking transitions in an individual life.
In the past, in parts of central province, PNG most young girls were marked at different stages of their lives centred around the changes in puberty. In todays world we often mark the different stages of an individuals journey of decolonisation.
Whether the marks are bespoke or familial each mark is designed to fit the body. The familial designs may be the same but they way in which they are placed and where they are placed are decided upon during the drawing of the marks in the beginning of the sessions. This can sometimes be a quick reveal or a longer discovery. On the part of the individual it is a vulnerable time as the mark placement is decided upon in the session and not before hand.
The traditional use of lemon thorns is not offered as hygiene has prompted us to use modern day tattoo needles. Our developed hand tap tool style is practical and functional using wooden handles and stainless steel needles. We use uv light sterilisers and all of our needles are one use only.
To book a session with us please be aware that we only work on Saturdays. Once you select your date we will be in contact to organise a consult.