University graduate turning heads with her Skin Secret range
A meat dress may be a bit Gaga – but how about jewellery made from skin?
Birmingham artist I-Ting Ho knows her striking Skin Secret line is bound to divide public opinion.
The necklaces, earrings, mirror, glasses and other objects may be made out of rubber and metal, but they look like real skin.
It is a controversial line that pushes the idea that beauty is only skin deep to the extreme.
But for the city jewellery graduate the provocative pieces are simply “adorable”.
“At the beginning of research to start my project, I was looking at medical articles and I did think maybe some people would think the project was a bit gruesome,” admits I-Ting.
“But after I went further into my project, I understood that I am trying to tell a story and offer questions to audiences – so, no, I do not think they are gruesome, they are adorable.
“Some people will be scared by my pieces, but some of them can understand the information I put into this collection – and they have told me they love it!”
Skin Secret is I-Ting’s final project for her postgraduate degree in jewellery, silversmithing and related products at Birmingham City University.
She fleshed the idea out after pondering the Buddhist philosophy that the human body is just a ‘skin shell’ – a dressing of your mind – and that accessories are like a second skin we use to improve and identify ourselves.
In a challenge to the public’s perception of beauty, I-Ting replaces the usual adornments of gold and silver with rubber made to look like blemished and scarred skin, seeking to make a powerful statement about ‘the way we choose to present ourselves in the world’.
The smallest brooch in the collection took 17 hours to make while some of the larger pieces took almost two days.
But I-Ting admits experiments to get the pieces looking just right took by far the longest amount of time.
“In order to reach as close as possible to the real feeling of skin, I did a lot experimenting, from using plaster to kinds of silicone, to types of rubber,” she explains. “But, the most difficult part is to get the colour.
“Colour is extremely important!”
I-Ting, who now works as a designer for a company that designs artwork and sculptures for hotels, luxury houses and restaurants, has previously studied at the College of Creative Studies in Detroit and Fu Jen Catholic University in Taiwan.
She has won a number of awards including the Young Designers Competition – but says art itself is enough of a reward.
“I am not proud, I just did what I want and have to do,” I-Ting adds.
“When people can receive the message from my work, that makes me proud.”