Homage to Polynesian Tattoos and the Men of the South Pacific.

Polynesian tattoos have always interested Ross. Widely travelled, especially in Asian and Pacific countries, he relates to the cultural, yet universally spiritual, nature of many traditional tattoos used by Polynesian societies for centuries.

In this body of work he pays homage to tattooed men of the South Pacific.

'Poerava The Black Pearl', acrylic on canvas

'Poerava The Black Pearl', acrylic on canvas.

Outlawed until recent decades by missionaries, tribal tattoos have enjoyed a resurgence in the Marquesas Islands, although it is likely that some of their religious and traditional meanings may have been lost.

Tattoos have a very long history and gained popularity throughout the world as the practice spread, some thousands of years ago, from Egypt (where priestesses were tattooed for mystical and sacred purposes) to Europe, the Middle East, Asia, Polynesia and Africa.

Ritual body painting as part of Australian Aboriginal ceremonies seems to be the nearest equivalent to traditional tattoos in this country.

'Tahitoa The First Warrior', acrylic on canvas

'Tahitoa - First Warrior', acrylic on canvas

Traditional and tribal tattoos from most countries have a cultural relevance, steeped in history.

In Polynesian countries the practice was thought to unite a person with his ancestors, to reflect his or her status in society as well as to protect the individual from evil forces whilst engaging mysterious and divine spiritual forces.

Discussing aspects of his work and Polynesian tattoos in particular, Ross tells me – “It’s the symbolism that fascinates me and the stories that accompany the designs. The desire to tell a story without words, through art, is primal and has existed since time immemorial. It is the artist’s ultimate tool of communication.”

The drawings of tattoos on the men’s arms are generalized impressions gained by the artist of the value to a culture of these body markings, not exact representations of them.

'Rahitit The Sunrise', acrylic on canvas

'Rahitit - The Sunrise' acrylic on canvas

Ross' acrylic painting techniques rely heavily on line to describe form and his palette is limited so as to be almost monochromatic.

One could describe his portrait paintings as being drawn with paint, simplified to essentials so that the character and spiritual connection with his subjects shines through.

If you have any queries about his work please contact Ross direct via the form below or visit his website.

This video, below, by Ross Bannister, is titled 'Arrivals and Departures'. Enjoy viewing and listening - available for purchase too, from Ross' website.

Ross Bannister's spiritual drawings

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Recent Ross Bannister Paintings

'Manu Bird of the Night', acrylic on canvas

'Manu Bird of the Night'

Spiritual and Metaphysical World of Creation

'Bodhisattva', acrylic on canvas


'Golden Ying, Phoenix', acrylic on paper

'Golden Ying, Phoenix'

'Golden Yang, Dragon', acrylic on canvas

'Golden Yang, Dragon'

'Bodhisattva Padmapani', acrylic on canvas

'Bodhisattva Padmapani'

'Dreaming', acrylic on canvas