On May 22, an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, England ended in chaos as a suicide bomber took the lives of 22 people and injured scores more. The bombing was just the latest in a string of terrorist attacks that have become almost commonplace despite the horror involved in each one. There was an added brutality with this attack — it was aimed at Grande’s fans, the bulk of whom are children.
Another piece of added powerful symbolism the bee provides, especially in this context, is the idea of the swarm. Bees work in huge numbers to create their perfect community, and one can argue that the people of Manchester are the same way, now more than ever. “In 10 years time whilst you're on holiday, in the supermarket, on a bus, you'll see this bee on someone that will match yours and you'll band together in support and remember that you donated, and you both made a difference that no one else did,” Jayke Cox of Diamond Dozen Tattoo says. “It's a bond for a lifetime.”
“The saddest story that we heard made us take a break just to reflect,” Cox explains. “One of our customer’s aunties unfortunately died in the attack. She had taken her children to the concert and it was hard to hear her nephew tell us about it. It pulled all our heart strings and brought many to tears.”
At the end of the day those that participated in the Manchester Tattoo Appeal were able to make loud statement to the world — not only were the standing up in the face of terror, but also affirming their integral part in the community. “We had such a good time and laugh bringing all different types of people together for the same reason,” Jo says. “To be able to show solidarity. There are now thousands and thousands of people with the symbol of Manchester on their body forever.”
If you want to show that you stand with the people of Manchester, we highly recommend you check to see if any shops in your area are still doing the tattoos. Or, for those of us on the other side of the pond, ask your artist for one of the bee tattoos and donate directly to the JustGiving fund. We applaud Sam Barber for creating an amazing idea that motivated hundreds of artists, as well as every single artist that participated, and every person proudly wearing a new tattoo of the Manchester bee.