Contact to host the first UK event for the global 'Human Rights Tattoo' project

The Human Rights Tattoo project will mark the skin of young Manchester residents with letters from the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

By Manchester's Finest | 8 August 2023

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Created in 2012 by Dutch artist Sander van Bussel, the Human Rights Tattoo project is a powerful artistic response to global divisions, with the mission of emphasising the importance of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The project, which has so far tattooed over 4,601 individuals from 77 countries, will be making its UK debut in Manchester at Contact.

The project’s goal is to tattoo the entirety of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, one letter at a time, onto the skin of 6,773 participants. Each person becomes a living testament to the human rights movement, carrying their tattooed letter with them for life. Sander van Bussel, the driving force behind the initiative, emphasises the growing global divide and polarisation, saying, “In today’s world where polarisation on all levels is on the rise, emphasising these fundamental human rights is particularly relevant.”

Manchester’s event will see 30 individuals aged between 18 and 30 receive a 1CM^2 tattooed letter. Those interested in participating are asked to apply by expressing their connection to the human rights movement and their reasons for wanting the tattoo. Participants will be selected anonymously by Contact staff and affiliated young individuals. Notably, the tattoos will be given on a ‘pay what you decide’ donation basis, ensuring accessibility for all.

The chosen tattoo artist for this event is Dax, a Manchester-based artist originally from India, renowned for his fine line, single-needle tattoo technique. Additionally, Sander van Bussel will be present during the event to interact with participants and document their tattoos and stories. The entirety of the project, including each participant’s tattooed letter, name, and their motivation, is meticulously documented on the Human Rights Tattoo website.

While waiting their turn, participants will have the opportunity to listen to Art With Heart’s special podcast episode, focusing on children’s equality at custom listening stations.

Keisha Thompson, Artistic Director and CEO of Contact, voiced her enthusiasm: “We are over the moon to be hosting the first ever Human Rights Tattoo in the UK. This project aligns with our values, and we are proud of giving young people an opportunity to be part of this extraordinary, global project uniting around human rights and connection.”

Applications for the event opened on Monday 7 August, with the deadline on Monday 21 August. The tattooing event is happening on Saturday 9 September. For more information or if you’re interested in participating, full details are on the Contact website.