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#SoftLads a series of pictorial large scale tapestries

 #Softlads in partnership with The Word Association

The portrait series explores notions of masculinity.  It does this by exploring themes of contemporary hero worship, body image, activism, sexuality, gender variation and history of identity. 

 The series aims to reimagine portraiture through craft, providing a contemporary twist.  I have found these portraits through Instagram searching the hashtag #facialtattoos #bodytattoos. 

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Hard Core Vibes 117cmx 150cm 

The portrait is of a person I have never met. Alex Hace is known on instagram as @alex_hace. He is a model who has over 59.3k followers. His images have given him a platform which has made him an online 'icon'. 

They have formed a virtual subculture of followers who share a common interest of tattoo art online. I am interested in how this has created a sense of hero worship online. 

 People aspire to be as successful as him, he is a contemporary example of a hero. He is celebrated by the number of followers, their wealth, and successful careers.   Historically tapestries of heroes were often knights in armour who had won a war,
or were notably wealthy.

This tapestry uses contemporary symbols to make connection to Scythian heritage and current forms of communication and expression - emojis. Images on the left side of the piece are referencing images found from a historic mummified tattoo sleeve. All the emojis in the right-hand side of the tapestry are from comments left by his followers. 
This piece is titled after the model’s forehead tattoo- ‘Hardcore Vibes’. I find it interesting that Alex Hace has used English to tattoo his forehead although that is not his first language. He is asserting his own identity and a mantra of the type of life he intends to lead. He is someone who travels internationally and has an international following, he is able to communicate on an international level through visual means. 

I like that the facial and body tattoos are an historic artistic practice and continue to be popular in our culture today. Body art allows a person to assert a person’s identity in a bold way. It’s something that they display as art all day wherever they are. 

Full Reflection Here

Pilgrim 2020 116cm x 126cm 

Pilgrim aims to focus on journeys, how we each have a life filled with discovery. The basis of the title of the piece ‘Pilgrim’ came from Enzo’s tattoo sleeve of a ship. It made me think of how we are all vessels, containing our soul, on our own unique journey. Every person is on a voyage of their own discovery and making. @ecolinatrader or Enzo Colina Moro is based over in South America. 


Enzo’s account is labelled a 'Personal Blog' containing his landmarks in life, recorded moments that he has experienced. He has proudly and publicly displayed his growth and progression. 

He has included images of his training and interests, surrounding himself with a loving unit of family and friends. He has been open about his transition from female to male on his Instagram account. 


The piece explores how internal and external factors change and shape our sense of self. These factors inform how we choose to exist and assert ourselves in the world.

 A part of Pilgrim aims to explore the journey every person takes to understanding themselves in a wider social context. This series has been created from a male perspective and I am trying to articulate a range of issues which fundamentally shape how I perceive myself as a man and what I believe society expects from me as a man. 

Full Reflection Here


Xochipilli 2021 97cm  x 147cm 

This piece is called ‘Xochipilli’ based on the god of art, games, dance, flowers and song in Aztec mythology. His name contains the Nahuatl words xōchitl ("flower") and pilli (either "prince" or "child") and hence means "flower prince".

 Xochipilli has also been interpreted as the patron of both homosexuals and male prostitutes. 

The model referenced from the Instagram account @eariverosa embodied these traits. His account shows different aspects of his personality, his spirituality and interest in natural remedies, chemistry, fitness and generally having a good time. He is expressing different parts of himself, his values, and interests.  

I see Instagram as a contemporary and democratic method of building a personality identity and actively promoting a curated version of the “self” to the wider society. Part of the piece is exploring contemporary ‘hero-worship’ exploring the aesthetic and values. Will he become a legendary figure like Xochipilli in future? 

Full Reflection Here

Artist/ Activist 100cmx 90cm 

The model Yves Mathieu East is looking into the future. He is a visionary and an artist as well as an activist. You can find him on Instagram @the_yvesdropper he will be advocating for justice against hate crimes.   


He is out in the world promoting equality and education whilst sharing his personal experiences and promoting other campaigns. He models and produces music and is making the most of his life. This to me is sexy, he is using his gifts proactively in the world and leading it towards change. 


The images surrounding him are all based on tattoos across his body. He has said- 


‘There are people who have scrapbooks, people have yearbooks and I have my tattoos. You know if my house was ever on fire, I would be able to run like out hands free. Because every single thing that means something to me like the most, is tattooed on my body.’ 


Across Yves Mathieu East’s chest is the quote ‘Nothing lasts Forever’ they are a powerful reminder to be present and to live as well as you possibly can. 

Through his Instagram account he shines a spotlight on various people’s life who have been prematurely taken away. Highlighting hate crimes and injustice whilst advocating for change. His body is a beautiful canvas full of flowers in full bloom and different animal skulls. The tattoos remind the viewer that life is beautiful and temporary.  His face is looking towards rays of light, looking outwardly at the world.  


Tattoos can be seen as aggressive, defiant, dominant and an armour over our skin. It can also display images which are beautiful, displaying emotionally significant stories which are sensitive and reveal the vulnerability of a person. 

Full Reflection Here

Adaptive Evolution 2021 100cm x 90cm  

This piece is called Adaptive Evolution with the figure based on the Instagram account @bionicguy. In the tapestry the model is featured with his full body and the model is posed in various way as he does regularly post on Instagram presenting his progress from a training session. Some accounts including @bionicguy share content which is mostly of themselves repeatedly in slightly different poses. Usually, the image is full body or torso based, people usually flex or pose to show off how they have sculpted their body. 

I became interested in @bionicguy’s account in part because of his body confidence, queerness and celebration of himself as an amputee. Some other hashtags in his posts include: 


#gym #fitness #fitfam #amputee #gainz #prothesis  

I like that he is so confident in himself and his appearance. Of the accounts I found that had a real focus on body image and fitness his was more interesting in that he celebrates his whole body.  

When I looked back at older images, representations of men in tapestries tools and technology are always evident. Horse and cart, armor and weaponry, books, clothing, all representations of technology of its time. I decided that I wanted to develop the narrative of technology in the present day. I conveyed this through the inclusion of his mobile phone with it’s three camera lenses and the Air Pods. Items which he uses to help him with this training and to build his presence online. He owns relatively current technology, and his prosthetic leg is clearly current technology. These are more than symbols of tools and technology. These are also symbols of privilege and wealth. He is independent, self-driven and in total control of his body and place in the world. 


I am interested in how temporary this technology is and how long he will own these items. We have a culture of throwing things out and progressing to the next ‘new thing’. How long will these three items last before they become obsolete? Where will technology progress and how will we use tools in future? This led me to consider humanity and our evolution in general.  

The phrase ‘Adaptive Evolution’ comes from Charles Darwin’s studies in the Galapagos observing variations of finches during his Beagle voyage that sailed 27 December 1831 and returned 2 October 1836. These observations are known as Darin’s finches or the Galapagos finches. Darwin made fundamental observations of the birds and was able to demonstrate how processes of natural selection and adaptive radiation led to changes in the birds. (For example, beak types, body size, plumage, feeding behaviour and song types). The bird beaks were particularly notes for their changes and it was suggested this is to aid them in hunting and foraging for food.  

I thought about the idea of survival and natural selection and the role of social media’s functionality and purpose. Using social media to assert where you ‘rank’ in terms of your physical attributes and displaying yourself as someone desirable and attractive to appeal to others to gain a partner. 

Social media helps facilitate these needs and is a tool for communication in a digital environment. The measure of your like’s and following help add clout to an individual’s appeal and makes them appear instantly more desirable.  This digital tool helps @bionicguy compete and assert his dominance as someone who is highly sought after. He has found a way to work with technology to help him adapt and excel in his environment. This makes me question how our bodies will physically adapt and change to complement our radically changing environments online and in real life.  

Full Reflection Here




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