Patrick Bartholomew

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Patrick Bartholomew, 1978.

Update:
Patrick passed away on 12th January 2015.
He will be missed.


It is with great sadness that I pass this on; legendary UK Body Modification artist Patrick Bartholomew contacted me earlier tonight to let me know that the cancer he’s been battling has spread to his brain and that his time left with us is being measured in days/weeks. Patrick has been fighting this fight with an inspiring positivity and there were times where I felt that despite the prognosis he’d outlive us all just to prove that he could.

8/6/2011
I have renal cancer that has spread from my kidney to both lungs. I was diagnosed as being terminal in January 2010. I was not expected to live for more than 6 and definitely no more than 12 months. I had my ‘baggage packed’ ready to go. I had no problems getting my head around it, I have had a good life, and at 64 was quite accepting of the situation. However I have had amazing results from my Sunitinib targeted cancer therapy drugs, and the tumours have shrunk significantly, and I am feeling better now than I did 18 months ago. That is not to say I am feeling well, just that I am in no pain, and I can make plans for periods of more than a few weeks ahead. I feel incredibly lucky, and compared to many other terminal sufferers I truly am! 😉

Life sometimes has other plans.

Patrick stepped away from the Professional Body Modification scene in 2005 when his health began to worsen and without a heavy online presence (and having been based in the UK) is often an overlooked figure in the community despite being an early innovator of “extreme” piercing techniques- including transscrotals, deep chest piercings and possibly the first known uvula piercing. 1 At times Patrick’s techniques were considered shocking- he believed in ‘the right tool for the job’ and was known as an early adopter of freehand technique as well as using sterilized leather punches for septum and guiche piercings which occasionally put him at odds with more conservative members of the piercing industry.

To me a Master Piercer is one who can do any piercing! And I do mean any piercing. I was accused some years ago of riding on Alan’s reputation. I put out a challenge that I would do any piercing named by any other piercer in public, provided that they would do the same. I went further and promised that whatever they claimed was their best piercing I could do as well, and probably better. Needless to say I received no takers. When I see super work from the likes of Jon Cobb, I know a master when I see one. I don’t think I would like to have to compete with him… (laughing) but I would if I had to.BME Interview with Shannon Larratt. 

 

While he remains under-appreciated here in the US, he was a fixture in the development of the UK Piercing Scene, the logical heir to his mentor Mr. Sebastian’s legacy and a regular contributor to Pauline Clarke’s PIERCING WORLD MAGAZINE. In the two and a half decades that I’ve known Pat I’ve always playfully called him Uncle Patrick; whether it was watching him perform modifications at a ModCon event or sitting around in our hotel room while he smoked his pipe and shared stories from the old days he was always a total charmer. A gruff old curmudgeon with a heart of gold who’s commitment to our community was always apparent.

In 1988 I was asked by a Gay Magazine where piercing would take me by the turn of the century, and my flippant reply was “God knows, I am more interested in where I will take Piercing!” That has been my philosophy throughout, and I only hope that it has been along a true and righteous path. I always believed that I would have an influence, and now that I look back I feel proud of what I have done and achieved, and Like Mr Sebastian before me:

I hope I will be remembered not mainly for my piercings – my art, but for my ethics, for my refusal to compromise on my standards and beliefs, for my methods and my concern, and for my sincere empathy for my clients.
– Patrick Bartholomew

 

 

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Notes:

  1. This claim is hard to substantiate; Jon Cobb is commonly thought to be the originator of the Uvula piercing, first performing it on himself in 1994 and documenting it on video. Patrick is reported to have attempted it on a client named Crudelia several years prior, but removed the jewelry when her gag reflex wouldn’t calm down. He considered the procedure a failure. As far as I’m aware there is no documentation of the attempt.

Shawn Porter has spent the majority of his life in the modification world. As a body modification archivist and documentarian, he has one of the most extensive collections of documents relating to the early American body modification community in existence. He edited the SPC website from 1995 to 2005, co-founded ModCon, was the host of ModCons 3.5 and 4, and created and hosted The Scarwars Project from 2004-2007. In 2011 Shawn launched Occult Vibrations, a blog devoted to traditional American tattoos with a focus on the occult and esoteric. He currently resides in Philadelphia with his wife Julia and their creepy pets Mr. Bailey Papers and L. RonBenet Ramsey.

3 comments

  1. Patrick and I went head to head a few times. I never had the pleasure to personally meet him. His journey has been awesome and inspiring and there are many things he did that he told me of that I, as “controversial” as I was supposed to be, would have never even attempted. I consider him to be one of the greats.

  2. I haven’t spoken to Pat for a few years now. He came to my flat in York and did a small pull on a mutual friend of ours.

    Sad to hear of this. I am sorry for your news and that we’ve not stayed in touch. Have often thought of you.

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