My tattos are reminders – personal symbols and inscriptions made permanent so I would never forget. They were also reassurances, promises and dares to myself. I got my first in 1995. It's a blue band on the index toe of my left foot. It was done by a friend of a friend using a home-made tattoo gun. The skin there is so thin that I could feel it vibrating against my bone. It was the equivalent of a tying a string around my finger. My second was a year or so later. It's a butterfly design, a reworking of the eliptical shapes making up an atom symbol. It's in the centre of my lower back, where I feel my creative, and sexual, energy. I wanted to somehow mark it, to bring it to the surface, to make it visible on my skin. I have a blossom on the inner wrist of my right hand. The outline is pink, the shading very soft pink and white. I wanted it to look like it was surfacing from beneath my skin, but sometimes it looks like a burn scar. I positioned it over my veins: a flower in perpetual bloom, growing from the blood that flows to my drawing hand. My last is on the upper inside of my left arm. It reads: A fronte praecimitium
A tergo lupi
Alis volat propriis(In front is a precipice
behind are wolves.
She flies on her own wings). It was my promise to myself about art, about pressing on, about stepping into the unknown – or off the cliff. I had it done when I decided to pursue art as my life and everyone was saying it would never work.If I could have them removed flawlessly today, I probably would. I have enough belief in myself that I don't need marks on my skin as mantras. It's strange to look at them, and as time goes by they become more unfamiliar to me. They're like scars inflicted on my body by someone I used to be. As the curator and art consultant, John Buckley, who's about 65, once said to me, "I never understood why people get tattoos. They are permanent, and one's personality is not. I think I've been about seven quite different people so far".