I caught up with the team at Minerva Lodge Tattoo studio this week a few weeks after attending their successful opening night.
Steve, from the Wirral has been working in tattoo studios for 11 years. Upon entry visitors to the studio are greeted by a wall size painting of an owl. He explains that “when we were opening we were looking for a suitable name that had links with Chester. We realised there was a shrine to Minerva [In Handbridge] and she was the goddess of art and crafts, her spirit creature was an Owl. The laurel leaf we use is a tip of the hat to the Romans. We wanted the studio to have a lodge type feel to it.. we’re not Masons or anything, we wanted people to feel they were part of something, part of a club instead of just being a customer” Incidentally the Minerva shrine dates from the 2nd century and is the only one in Western Europe in its original location- well worth a visit, perhaps to make an offering to the goddess like I did on Christmas Eve with half a chocolate brownie.. Madness.. anyway, back to the point. Steve concerns himself mainly with managing the studio, social media and promotional work.
Liverpool born Natz has been tattooing for 5 years, starting when she was 17. ” I wanted to do it since I was 8, I was a really weird child so I didn’t have a choice, I had to do this! Before that I wanted to be a farmer. Its a really hard industry to get into, there are no art colleges or courses to do it, you need an experienced tattoo artist who’s willing to teach you the basics of hygiene, sterilisation, set up, needles, ink, body parts and skin differences, aftercare… and you have to be able to draw! You practice on fruit, pig skin and yourself! My first tattoo was of a tooth I did on my ankle!” She says ” people are becoming more open minded, its becoming more of an art form, we do custom designs for everyone, we never use them again, they’re unique and one of a kind.. Its the type of job where you’re always getting better, always improving, you’re never doing the same thing.. and I never shut up so I can talk to my hearts content!”
Last but not least is the vastly experienced Jo Talbot, a very talented artist who has been tattooing for over 13 years now. She works multiple international tattoo conventions and is her work has been published in Tattoo showcase. Jo was working at the time of my visit so we didn’t speak much but I did witness a tattoo being drawn- looked like a mild form of torture to me lol.
The opening night was well attended and received, Minerva hosted live music, burlesque dancers, and party bags featuring temporary tattoos and chocolate owls. Lots of local people and businesses came out to show their support. I was particularly impressed by the spacious art gallery on the top floor and purchased a piece by Charlie Bones, the up and coming Warrington based street artist.
The art space is a big draw for the studio and has an impressive view of the Fountains roundabout and the infamous Travelodge building. The studio is well situated at the gateway to the city, the building was previously in use as a Bridal shop. ” I worried that if we had gone on the rows we would have just blended in, we wanted to do something different” says Steve, who is optimistic about the regeneration of the Northgate quarter, with the new medical centre being completed on Delamere Street and the long awaited arts centre/theatre. “Chester is definitely on the up and we want to be part of that” Minerva hope to be involved with Chester Fringe in the future and the art space has great multi use potential from music, art, scrabble tournaments to time travel experiments. “If anyone wants to display anything just come and speak to us”
Currently the gallery hosts a wide range of art, all of which are for sale or rent. On display you can see prints by Shepard Fairey with his famous Andre the Giant “OBEY” , work by Hutch “the next Banksy” says Steve, as well as lots of other interesting pieces. Well worth a browse if you are in the area.
Thanks to the team at Minerva for their time. They will be tweeting about their up and coming projects very soon. I have been invited back for a ShitChester tattoo.. I’m considering the offer!