By Vikki Campion
HE is an art lover who has dedicated his whole body to his passion.
Now retired history teacher Geoff Ostling, 65, has pledged to donate his skin to the National Gallery in Canberra.
He worked with cult artist eX de Merci over 15 years to tattoo a masterpiece on his body, from neck to ankle, with the theme "All the flowers of a Sydney garden".
"I wanted something unique, so I thought about a garden of plants, of natives and imported flowers, what you would find in a Sydney garden with a distant view of the city from Heartbreak Hill (at Rose Bay)," he said.
"To donate skin is not the most amazing thing in the world but the tattoos are revolutionary."
The concept of donating his skin was followed in an Australian documentary Anatomy, which has already won international acclaim.
He will also donate his organs to medicine.
"It has never been done as a whole body before and not in a gallery," he said.
"People can be squeamish about it. Portraits painted on human skin hang in galleries around the world. They don't tell you that, of course, and valuable books were also covered in human skin."
Sydney taxidermy expert Sascha Smith said it could be a challenge to preserve the tattoos unharmed but the process would be no different to skinning an animal.