|The art of adorning the body with paint has
been practiced for thousands of years all over the world and
it is still familiar to us today - from the faces of England
supporters daubed with the flag of St George to images of
New Guinea women in full tribal splendour.
now body painting is becoming one of the hippest new art forms,
gracing the bodies of dancers at some of the coolest clubs
These flesh and blood sculptures take several hours and
thousands of small brush strokes to transform into spectacular
and often erotic works of art which last just for an evening.
It is perhaps the greatest appeal of the new body painting
that it is a fleeting work of art on a full motion canvas.
The dancer takes to the stage and gyrates through a kaleidoscope
of coloured lighting. But tomorrow all that will be left of
the original artwork - and the night out - will be in the
memories of the transfixed audience.
The pictures on this page were taken at Camden’s Purple
Turtle. The manager at the time said: “Body painting
was a regular attraction on launch nights .
“Katz, one of our barmaids, volunteered to dance and
was painted in bright coloured fluro stripes, which fitted
“For the launch of the live band evenings Jasmine,
the body painter, was brought in again to transform Katz into
the Larry Love (Alabama 3) theme. “Katz was a bit nervous
when she saw the Alabama 3 logo, but the black and white stripes
and distinctive symbol on her back looked amazing,”
said the manager. The logo is a big afro-headed face with
crossed rifles below.
“It’s something different, something sexy and
verging on erotic.” she says. “It’s like
nothing you’d see at your average bar and the patrons
love it - they’re transfixed by Katz writhing on the
podium, naked except for a g-string and the body paint. It
painter Jasmine learnt her art from her mother who is also
a body and face painter in Cape Town. Jasmine has been coming
to London to work for six months each summer for the last
seven years. She works for promotions, or painting dancers
“and sometimes for, say, a conference, when they just
want something outrageous.”
Jasmine’s recent work (shown on the front cover) was
painted using a pencil sized ink brush. Body painting usually
takes about three hours to complete; She works with sponges
for large areas of colour and brushes for more detailed work.
She paints with high quality water based paint, kinder to
the skin than acrylics or the greasepaint used for theatre
She dispels any fears people may have about Goldfinger-like
episodes. Jasmine does paint the whole body but the paint
still allows the skin to breathe. Her rates are negotiable.
Much of her work is spontaneous and it is always customised
to her clients’ needs. She is often given a theme to
medium is unable to represent flowing clothes satisfactorily
and therefore Jasmine uses iconography, motto and symbolism
for, say, a mediaeval theme. This often requires quite detailed
She seems truly inspired by and open-minded about her work.
We asked her how she feels about the painting being so temporary.
Although she always has a photographic record, the interest
is in that “you can change yourself for a day.”
Every commission is different and she has never repeated her
Photography captures the image of body painting and allows
it to be displayed long after the original has washed away.
Here we print some pieces of artwork that no longer exist.
Dancer: Katz. Pictures by Richard Thomas. See more of his
To buy books on Body Painting from Amazon click here - Books on body painting