The Living Art Show 

I arrived at the Maui Waui festival in Suffolk feeling all kinds of emotions. We made it there in good time despite the travel logistics, although Sam and I had only a couple hours sleep as she didn’t get to mine until 2:30am which was pretty rough as you can probably imagine! 


If you read my last post then you would know all about my preparation (or lack of) leading up to this event and how I felt unprepared and super nervous, with it being my first ever solo body paint and all. 

The Living Art Show tent was situated next to the incredible Main Stage which had a giant Octopus leeching itself across the top. I don’t know how you feel about sea creatures but if David Attenborough has taught me anything it’s that I would be in for a real treat!

On arrival I was greeted by Liz Bylett, the organiser and creator of The Living Art Show. I was handed a goody bag and a T-shirt, then instructed to set up on my little painting plot. It was at this point I regretted not buying a decorating table because I had only bought a tiny little camping table while every one else had these huge paint setups. I felt like the kid in school who wore plimsolls while everyone else was wearing NIKE Airmax’s. 
I actually procrastinated a lot in the first half hour of starting my paint because I was so nervous and I got myself into a bit of a flap. A preparation paint would have definitely helped or at least a little sketch of ideas would have been useful but in true Helena fashion I went completely freestyle and that probably wasn’t the best idea. The time I lost while deciding where to put everything was a bit of an issue. I definitely learnt that every minute wasted counts because 6 hours went by ridiculously quickly and I really underestimated how fast the time would go. 

It was incredible to look around at everyone else painting and seeing the amount of detail that went into their paints. Some people worked extremely quickly as I looked on in admiration. 

At first I felt slightly intimidated as in comparison I thought my paint was quite simple but I kept telling myself not to run before I could walk as this was my first body paint and I had only just started out as a painter. I didn’t want to end up with an unfinished paint and I didn’t want to take on more than I was able to. This was all part of the experience, a learning curve if you will.


I needn’t have worried anyway because all the other models and painters at the show were lovely and super supportive. I actually picked up some amazing tips and tricks from watching others around me. It was really inspiring to be around people with such passion and talent and I learnt so much from speaking with everyone. 

Some of the painter’s kit setup were absolutely insane, I wish I had the chance to take photos. I love having a nose at people’s kits! My painting kit is teeny tiny so I was in awe looking at everybody else’s paints and glitters. 

The only hiccup I had was that my airbrush decided to do me over at last minute (1-0 to Ebay). The spare gun I had also didn’t work (what are the chances of that even happening?) and with only half an hour to spare by this point I started to panic because I hadn’t painted her legs or arms because my trusty airbrush (cough) was supposed to do that for me in quick time. Without it I didn’t have enough time to evenly paint her limbs. That’s when my model suggested pouring the airbrush mix down her and so I got my the bottle of silicon based airbrush paint and just coated her legs with it. The drips really worked with the candy skull look I was going for and I decided not to blend the liquid out and just leave it dripping down. I then ended up covering her hands in duo glue and glitter.  

Fortunately for me by some creative miracle everything went as well as I could of hoped at the end of my 6 hours. I had a lot of faith in my painting abilities even though my preparation attempts failed miserably but I know that I always work better under pressure and I’m a firm believer in thinking that you can do anything when you put your mind to it.

The finale catwalk was staged underneath the giant Octopus in front of thousands of people. The models had to do a burlesque style catwalk to go along with the shows theme. I definitely felt bad for my model who isn’t actually a model but my friend and old housemate. She had helped me out as a favour, stood naked all day to be painted and now had to go on stage and do a burlesque style walk! Luckily she’s a good sport and took it all very well. 

We stayed for the evening of festivities where we got together with all the other painters and models and had some celebratory drinks. The winners were announced and then I spent the rest of the evening exploring what the Maui Waui festival had to offer. 

I was completely amazed by how many painters continued to paint throughout the evening and offered complimentary face painting to anybody at the festival who came to our tent. I was proper exhausted at the end of my paint and I really admired the people who continued, they clearly love what they do so much. 

I feel so lucky to have had such an amazing first body painting competition experience and I can’t wait to do it again.i spent the rest of my night celebrating under the Octopus and exploring what the Maui Waui festival had to offer. 

And I finished the weekend by fullfilling a lifelong dream: I was turned into a unicorn by the talented June Waller! 

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