Exhibit

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I exhibited my photographs in the hallway of the art college for a week. I left paper and pen for people to write their comments about the artwork because I think it is important to create a discussion, especially when there is a stigma out there regarding bruises.

Like my experiments in the past, this did not attract too much attention. The comments I received are positive, people found the bruises beautiful and the idea unique. I was hoping for some challenging opinions though, something that could have started a conversation over the comments sheet (unfortunately I was not able to even overhear comments as I was out of the country). One person wrote “the neck placement speaks of tracheotomy”- this is an interesting observation and adds a new, even more gruesome analysis of the work.

After the photo shoot I asked the models to leave the tattoos on for at least the remaining part of the day and take note of reactions from people. Here are the results:

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-very concerned friends shocked and asked what happened/been in a fight?

-people thought it was a hicky

-what a hell of a bruise, how did he manage to get that??

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-some thought he had a Chinese burn

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-workshop technician approached her embarrassed and discreet to ask if everything was ok

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-concerned friend asked if he got a new piercing and said it looked extremely infected (viewer described as a little panicked)

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-loved her earrings before realising it was a bruise

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-peers enquired about what she did to herself

-thought she was wearing a colourful bracelet

These comments were very satisfying because it confirmed for me that the tattoos do look realistic. People saw the grotesque quality of the bruises and curiosity took over, creating discussion with the wearer. Some of the viewers were able to accept the beauty in the adornment, showing me that we can see past common ideals of attraction.

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Artist Statement

Teresa Lee

We Are Not Made of Glass

Objects and images that are neglected or regarded as ugly are a big focus for me throughout my works. I am interested in the weird and grotesque, especially as these characteristics conjure feelings of disgust and uneasiness, resulting in curiosity and discussion. These feelings have fueled my thoughts and research into bruises. I am drawn to the human body’s complexities and imperfections- while jewellery is worn on the body, this combination of theory and practice fits perfectly together.

Jewellery is worn to add to the wearer’s aesthetic and acts as an expression of their identity. Every bruise on the human body has a story behind it and like jewellery, bruises can give the viewer an insight into the wearer. The typical connotation behind a bruise is quite negative, but through my pieces I want to represent another side that communicates the visual beauty of the injury. The pinks, blues and purples as well as yellows and greens are striking colours on the skin and create unpredictable, unique shapes. Through my own photography of bruises I documented those that were caused by accidents, such as results of sporting collisions and everyday bumping into objects. Bruises are just adornments the body produces naturally, expressing the wearer’s story in the same way contemporary adornment can.

To an extent, the human body can take a large amount of impact without falling apart and bruises remain as a badge of honour, a show of hard work, as evidence of a narrative. Whether the narrative is an accident, a victory or an act of violence, a story is projected that represents the wearer. Temporary tattoos of hand printed bruises allow an accessible way to adorn the body with these beautiful, natural images without having to apply blunt force.

Bruises, as organic images produced by the body, are jewellery themselves and like contemporary jewellery they are ornaments that carry meaning and experience. They are portable stories and metaphors. The works aim to communicate the beauty within a bruise while subtly still holding onto the grotesque qualities associated them.

Stamps

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These are photos of the impressions left on my skin by the stamps. My wrist has interesting red lines from the raised contours on the face of stamp and my finger has quite a definite indentation. I then drew around these images to demonstrate their functionality as natural jewellery, but I do prefer the marks as they are without drawings to make them look like conventional jewellery.

Tattoos

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The result of my hand-printed bruises is these temporary tattoos. I am very happy with how realistic they look on the body- positioned tactically, the outcome will be more effective. I am imagining a professional and simple photo shoot with my friends wearing the tattoos in places on the body that one would typically wear jewellery. I want to portray bruises as adornments- these tattoos will be an accessible way of wearing a bruise without having to apply the usual blunt force.

Blunt Force Objects

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Stemming from the theme We Are Not Made of Glass, I made hammers to bruise the body. The hammer heads are from found glass that attach to timber handles, finished with flesh-like polymer clay. I wanted to make an accessible, blunt object that is to be used to bruise the skin for adornment.

These are for my Undiscovered Landscape project where I have been looking at the body as landscape. The two projects tie in together with the same concept, as if they are two artworks in the same exhibition.

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These stamps are part of the hammer series. The impact end began as scab-like wax moulds, which I then cast into pewter. When applied to the surface of the body with pressure, the textured stamp marks the skin through both an immediate colour change and an indentation of the scab contours- leaving behind a beautifully organic adornment.