Russian Criminal Tattoos: A Lexicon of Crime is drawn from a remarkable archive comprising photographs and drawings of Russian criminal tattoos, collected by the graphic design and publishing company FUEL. The elaborate tattoos formed a secret language between prisoners and, were recorded for police use to further the understanding of the language of the markings and act as an aid in the identification and apprehension of criminals in the field.

Thursday 7 September – on the launch night of Photo Oxford, join us at AOFS to celebrate the opening of the exhibition, 6 – 9pm.

This exhibition forms part of Photo Oxford, a celebration of photography taking  place at various venues in Oxford’s city centre during the month of September (8-24). Photo Oxford has been curated by Tim Clark and Greg Hobson who have brought together a series of exhibitions and related events that explore the complex and often contradictory relationship between photography’s capacity to both conceal and reveal.

An afternoon of talks with Photo Oxford’s curators and artists, including a keynote interview with the photograher Martin Parr, and a discussion with the members of FUEL who collected the Russian Criminal Tattoos archive, will take place on Thursday 7 September at the Weston Library. For more information and booking details see