17 May 2023

So you love Canberra's iconic bus shelters? Not as much as some people

| James Coleman
Bus shelter tattoo

Canberra’s iconic bus shelter in tattoo form. Photo: Aalto Bowers.

It’s on mugs. Postcards. Socks. Mini pot-plant holders. Whole photo books have been published on it. But what about turning Canberra’s iconic concrete bus shelter into a tattoo?

Aalto Bowers is always thinking of new ink designs, and this one had been a dream for a while before they decided to present an arm to the tattoo machine last month.

“In a nutshell, I thought it was just a fun idea for a tattoo,” Aalto says.

“The bus shelters are easily recognisable, and I think there’s an appeal to the simplistic design. It was also appropriate in that 2023 is my tenth year of living in Canberra, and I’ve happily relied on getting around by bus while living here.”

READ ALSO Step inside Canberra’s first and only Thai Buddhist temple ahead of its long-awaited opening

The tattoo certainly wooed fellow members of the Public Transport Association of Canberra (PTCBR) during a public meeting in Gungahlin on 6 May, prompting its own post on the official Facebook page.

“I’m hoping to become more involved with advocacy, which is why I was attending that meeting,” Aalto says.

Friends and family members, though, don’t quite get it.

“Those who don’t have tattoos tend to assume the tattoos have deep personal significance – and for a lot of people, they do – but the idea I’d just get something like that is quite amusing to people.”

Canberra tattoos

The bus shelter is joined by several other designs on Aalto’s left forearm. Photo: Aalto Bowers.

The bus shelter design measures four centimetres across and joins a collection of others on Aalto’s left forearm, including a cassette tape with the words ‘Never Let Me Go’ written on it – referencing a novel of the same name by Kazuo Ishiguro – a five-cent postage stamp depicting a branch of a lemon tree, and a tarot reference in the form of a sword embedded in a bouquet of roses.

No real great theme “binds them together, ” but as a former student of psychology at the University of Canberra (UC) and now a public servant, Aalto knows the shelter’s place as a local icon.

“I know I’m definitely not the first one to have had this idea, because when I was thinking about it, I Googled ‘Canberra bus shelter tattoo’ and a few other people have got them before, or tattoos of other local Canberra icons like the Telstra Tower or the Belconnen owl statue.”

READ ALSO Meet the Canberra cosplayers who celebrate Star Wars Day every day

The work was done by Putri, based at the Sisters Inked tattoo parlour in the Melbourne Building, who has done previous tattoos for Aalto and “thought it was a fun idea as well”.

“She was actually planning to put together a flash sheet of Canberra theme designs ahead of Canberra Day, but didn’t get around to it, so she found the idea quite amazing.”

As for what could possibly be next, who knows?

“I definitely want to continue getting more tattoos, but I don’t have any firm ideas as of yet.”

Original Article published by James Coleman on Riotact.

Weekly Wrap

Canberra is renowned for its restaurants, bars, arts and culture. If you want to know what's going on in and around the nation's capital, sign up for our weekly newsletter and have all the best of the Canberra community delivered free to your inbox.

By submitting your email address you are agreeing to Region Group's terms and conditions and privacy policy.