Entering the 2021 World bodyPaint Festival in Covid times

I’ve been lucky to be sponsored to go to the World Body Painting Festival (Body Art’s World Championships) twice. I’d go every year but flights, accommodation & food in Austria in peak summer season make it hideously expensive. And means I miss earning at bookings. Plus now it’s on before school stops for summer.

(2007 I assisted Bibi Freeman – 1 of my fave painters/ people & the inventor of the 1st rainbow one-stroke facepaints – when she Da Vinci brushes kindly invited me. We made it through day 1 and were ?12th? in the finals! She also won the World Face Paint Award and I was delighted to be 5th, as I’d only been face painting a couple of years.)

(2015 I had Paintopia Jenn as my assistant and painted Laurence Caird in the Brush & Sponge category, with paint sponsored by the fab Eugenie of Cameleon body paint. After 2 hours painting she had to be hands-off, trying to supply me with things I lost the words for. We made it through to the finals with our 1st paint, and finished top 20 with our 2nd, again I’ve lost memory of where, 19th?)

I’ve been wanting to go again, but 2020 it didn’t happen and I was too caught up – attempting to home-educate my kids whilst shielding- to even look at the online event they held.

In 2021, just as restrictions lifted and I began painting at selected Covid-tested events, I was told they were running an Online Covid WBPF. I was asked to help Bath become the UK WBPF ‘Hotspot’ and paint there with as many others as we could. In 2 weeks. I was fully booked with Hobbycraft & wedding paints except for 1.5 days off before that date. But it was my only free Saturday in months, and Izabela K was available too.

I’d not painted anyone except faces on my youngest son in 18 months due to Covid, and people generally plan, build props and practice for months before entering the WBPF.

Then Hamish of Gibralter Body Art kindly offered to sponsor both our entrance fees and a loo at the Field Good Bar which took most of the money pressure off. So I said yes; Iz & I would meet up to celebrate being able to paint again if nothing else.

I drove my colleagues mad trying to work out a design; the given theme was ‘Historic Moments’ and I decided COVID was DEFINITELY in that category, but how to paint it? Then I realised, it isn’t the 1st international plague, let’s do them all. World diseases and their vectors/ causes/ effects on Izabela’s front, cures real or imagined on the back. I used my Cricut to cut Covid virus stencils in assorted sizes from the reusable mylar I use for the stencils I sell, and then matching virus shapes from hot pink, teal, navy and white for a head-dress. I added Cricut-made card syringes on the back of the virus, along with a hand sewn plague mask. In hot pink foam of course.

Just after starting

On the day I had my fave Cameleon colours (thank you Paintopia Jen for sponsoring those and the Paintopia Pants) and the new Cameleon long-handled kabukis to try.

I used the Nippies modesty covers I bought at Magic Box recently rather than my fave single use but expensive (and hard to get, as creator John nearly died from Covid and had been in hospital for months) Monster Pasties. I am impressed with the Nippies, they are the first silicone boob covers I like, possibly as they have a matt finish. They are reusable, in a decent reusable box and incredibly easy to put on. We’ll see how many paints they last on Izabela.

I told Iz I had a nearly set idea for her front, and aside her bottom at the back being yellow, no back plan. We agreed that as we wanted to enjoy it, both had work early the next day (she was off to Cardiff at 5 a.m.) & I had to get all the photos/ paperwork in by midnight, that we would finish early. There was an option to paint for 8 hours instead of the usual 6, but we stopped at 6! Rules meant we had to take a photo at the beginning, every hour and at the end to show our progress & times taken.

Sooo the front of the design; white Grimas base, all other paints Cameleon from Paintopia – Bollywood Pink, Inkheart Blue, Teal, Line white and neons. The stained lip shows where virus/ bacteria entered lungs for Spanish Influenza/ COVID, and spread throughout the body (virii using my stencils). The fleas represent Bubonic Plague getting into the bloodstream after flea bites,veins morphing into the dark dead fingers often seen in Black Death. The dots of the virus merge into the skull eye sockets for all the people who lost their lives but also are the ‘buboe’ lumps on the skin.

The back was a bit of a doodle really. Fresh air and UV rays which helped many pandemic treatments – during the Spanish Flu epidemic they created open air hospital tent cities. Also syringes of inoculations in the sun beams, and several plants/ herbs/ flowers that were thought important – onions by Bubonic Plague doctors, more recently in SARS the Chinese government said Woad helped.

So, Iz & I finished after 6 hours and I was really happy I could still use a paintbrush. She posed brilliantly as ever. Tony Cooney took the official pics to send off to the judges that night, and Iz did some fab shots with her friend Chris Daw.

Then Mik Garton got some blinders on his Iphone in the sun – what amazing weather, it had rained for weeks! I think it was about 8 p.m. by then.

Izabela-model shot by Chris Daw art BodyPaintingByCat
Izabela-model shot by Chris Daw art BodyPaintingByCat

So I packed up and cleaned whilst Izabela posed. The nippies came off easily but worked well! And Iz, for once too warm most of the day, had her cold cider at the end.

The results were announced a week later. I was painting at another outdoor wedding and could feel my phone buzzing as I worked. It wasn’t until I finished late that night I saw that people thought I’d been in the top 20, as my photo of Iz had been on the live WBPF TV show!

Izabela-model shot by Mik Garton, Art BodyPaintingByCat

I was delighted & amazed to find I had placed 14th, highest of the UK entries, against around 100 really amazing competitors.

Izabela-model shot by Mik Garton, Art BodyPaintingByCat

Huge thanks to Clemency Bedford & all for organising the hotspot/ photography/ venue, Field Good Bar for the amazing pizzas, all the photographers, Hamish for sponsoring fees, Paintopia for paint & Izabela for doing this with me.

Izabela-model shot by Mik Garton, Art by BodyPaintingByCat

I’m almost inspired to actually go to WBPF in Austria in 2022 if it’s all on again!