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'My beautiful rare fungus tattoo'

Natalie's 'Beautiful Bonnet' fungus tattoo
Natalie's 'Beautiful Bonnet' fungus tattoo

When Natalie Angus opted for her first tattoo, she knew straight away what it was going to be.

"I'm quite passionate about fungus," she confessed. "I know that's a weird thing to be passionate about but I wanted any sort of fungus."

Now, as a result of a unique conservation project in Manchester, Natalie is the proud bearer of a Beautiful Bonnet tattoo, a rare fungus found in the British Isles.

The 21-year-old Fine Art student was one of 100 people who volunteered to take part in ExtInked, a 'social experiment' to highlight the plight of the UK's endangered species.


For the event, graphic designers Ultimate Holding Company (UHC) turned their studio into a temporary tattoo parlour, inviting each of the volunteers to be tattooed with one of 100 endangered plants, animals, and fungi to celebrate Darwin's bicentennial.

The ExtInked project took three years to plan, from researching the different species, some of which hadn't been seen for years, to drawing each picture.

woman being tattooed
'social experiment' in Manchester to raise conservation issues
100 volunteers tattooed with drawings of rare species
arranged to celebrate Charles Darwin's bicentennial

UHC's creative director, Jai Redman, who sketched all the designs, said Natalie wasn't alone in her passion for Britain's less glamorous flora and fauna, such as the Marsh Fritillary or the Boring Millipede.

"A lot of people thought it would be the uglier ones," he said, "but it was actually the ones that became very clichéd in the 80s and 90s, such as dolphins and butterflies, that were the most unpopular."

All the volunteers have now been designated 'ambassadors' for their particular species, the idea being to create a collective of people who care deeply about British wildlife to share ideas about its conservation.

"For about 70 to 80 per cent it was their first tattoo," said Jai. "There were some who already had a lot of tattoos but said, 'I want one which really means something'."


The event took three tattoo artists from Leeds company Ink v Steel four days to complete.

Jai Redman
Jai Redman drew 100 designs of threatened UK species

Simon Caves, one of the tattooists, said that after doing thousands upon thousands of tattoos for people, this time it felt different.

He said: "It's putting a tattoo on for a good cause, for a genuine reason on people who truly want them and they will carry them around for the rest of their lives."

Natalie said: "I'm really proud and I want to tell people. It means I've been talking to more people about conservation issues.

Adding: "It gets the message across in a playful way. It's not rammed down your throat, it's subtle. It sticks in people's minds."

Portraits were taken of each participant with a 120-year-old wooden camera loaned from Manchester Metropolitan University, which they hope to make into a book.

Of extending the project, Jai said: "I'd love to do one on every continent and have a global network of ambassadors."

"We came up with something unique" he said, "It is art about our time."



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