12 July 2014


Images: Jonathan Rae
Words and styling: Saskia Edwards
Jewellery: Teresa Lee
Model: Gabz Tumataroa

What’s ugly? What’s beautiful?

Can scabs, blood, decaying flesh be adornments?

Well, Teresa Lee’s jewellery is beautiful.

But look a little closer, her grills are rotten, her rings are deformed and her earrings are tarnished with blood and intestines.

Teresa: “Some of these pieces have scrunched and tangled hair that resembles hair from a shower plughole.

“It is interesting how parts of our body can be attached at one moment and then treated like rubbish and thrown in the bin the next moment.”

If you look even closer, you can see faces in the silver. Teresa took old photographs, buried them with blood, dug them up five days later and transferred the warped images onto silver.

“Well the whole concept was, some of our family just ditched us because I don’t know, well I do know.

“But you think family sticks together, but apparently not.

“The blood was representing the deterioration of the relationship, but it was a family relationship. “

The blood is about Teresa’s DNA.

The locks allude to the Victorian Era’s mourning jewellery, for the death of family relationships.

And the imperfections on the photographs are about loss.

“The messing up the photos was to show the memories meant nothing.”

Teresa’s grills are part of a more recent series. They’re meant to evoke disgust.

“The mouth is not clean, it is full bacteria, yet there is still hesitation to put a clean and safe, although apparently gross, grill in the mouth.”

But in fact within the perceived grotesques of these concepts lies the beauty of Teresa’s work.

It’s a forced reconsideration of what’s beautiful.

Are pictures of vanity that permeate modern internet culture real beauty?

Maybe these images are more repugnant than scars or disfigurements.

Maybe our idols reach deity status for superficiality and hollow morals.

Perhaps marred skin has more beauty than the self-absorption of perfection.

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