Tell us a little about yourself

My name is Samo and I am dedicated to exploring and documenting the human condition, using myself as the subject matter. Southsea is home to me and I own an art gallery & tattoo studio. I founded the Safe Space movement, which the local businesses and wider community embraced, and hold workshops to encourage creativity, education and acceptance. The key objectives are accessibility, trans awareness and a united community. I started my transition 3 years ago and have created a series of work exploring the experience and my personal feelings, that became more poignant and elevated after my surgery.

How did you get started in your art career?

I am self-taught from a young age with no formal qualifications as such past GCSEs. Everything I’ve achieved is down to hard graft, determination and a drive to express my perspective and connect with others. I’ve experimented with all manner of media and canvas, anything I could find, proving money is no barrier to achieving your vision if you are committed. My first exhibition was around my 18th birthday in a funeral parlour. The show was a series of installations in mixed media, including casting and sculpture, themed around the human body and its condition.

What’s your favourite medium to work on/with?

I’m currently using primarily oils for their sculptural, textural dynamic.

What do you think of the power of self-expression tattoos give people?

In the context that the majority of my of clients are on LGBTQ spectrum, I’ve seen how tattoos can give confidence and acceptance to clients, helping them to evoke a sense of ownership and love for the bodies they were born into but don’t necessarily relate to. There’s a sense of respect for the unique art that they have had input in producing and have chosen to wear on their skin, engendering a sense of respect for the body itself.

What interested you in the Beyond event and how did you come to get involved?

I was offered to curate an exhibition at The Marlborough Pub & Theatre and, after conversations with the team running Beyond about the trials of fundraising and understanding the profound importance of the surgery, I offered to help where I could. I received such generosity and support from my own community that I want to pay it forward and give back, to highlight the importance and power of community in achieving great things when united.

Tell us about the Transitions show?

Expect to see a series of work created during the aftermath of top surgery, during recovery. It’s a deeply personal, intense series created at a time of vulnerability as a coping tool. The pieces document an insight into my feelings and experience; I couldn’t move due to the binder and drains and was struggling to psychologically connect my body to my mind, so projecting onto canvas helped me process the changes and reconnect. As I shared my work with others, exploring non-verbal communication, it became clear that others felt connected to the series and it took on its own voice.

Is there a personal link for you to help people raise funds to help them begin to transition?

Of course. Embrace your true self, create positive awareness and keep the cycle of gratitude and giving back turning, to ultimately strengthen and build the networks of community.

See more of Samo’s work on Instagram @samo.arts / @playdeadstudio

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