Reflecting on Perfume as Practice
A whole year has passed since the conception of Perfume as Practice. The original premise was an investigation into whether perfume could be a viable creative activity and whether scent could engage an audience. It was clear from the off that there was potential there. Especially as perfume has pre-conceptions that can be confounded and extended beyond the typically regarded product.
I needed a hook though – a clear and concise avenue of enquiry that could captivate and intrigue a wide audience. Perfume used as a means to create portraits seemed to fit this bill perfectly and, as I have navigated though the world of fragrance, it is clear that this avenue has the potential to inspire.
The culmination of this is an exhibition currently running at Bank Street Arts. In a space curated to resemble a perfume shop and an art exhibition simultaneously, the exhibition displays 25 perfume portraits of other artists, with the intention of capturing the essence of what makes an artist an artist.
A Private View of the exhibition and a talk were held last week, both very well attended which immediately aroused suspicions that I’ve gone and hit on something with all this perfume lark. Reactions were overwhelmingly positive, ranging from the simple fact that there aren’t many – if any – exhibitions of this nature from the notion that I can change peoples’ perceptions of scent, perfume, portraiture and even art in general.
I had a few reservations about the exhibition initially. Many scent-based exhibitions seem to lean towards being gimmicky. I think I managed to avoid this by staying true to the artistry of perfume making – all 25 perfumes are nominally eau de toilettes – which also goes some way towards creating a sense of authenticity around the space.
Any reservations were quickly extinguished due to initial reaction from an audience being so positive. I seem to have achieved a multi-layered exhibition, engaging those interested in the aesthetics of the bottles to those intrigued by the prospect of portraiture being examined from a different, fragrant space. The exhibition simultaneously informs our understanding of scent and looks pretty cool. This is great because when developing conceptual creative activity it’s easy to become quite impenetrable. I guess everyone has their own thoughts towards perfumery and the space I have created becomes a space where such thoughts develop and meet.
Safe to say that I am happy with my exhibition. I think, finally, I have created something that surpasses the work I made for my B.A at Chester University. (It’s only been 9 years coming!) But, where to go from here? Well the short answer is to keep going. It’s very easy to flit between ideas as an artist, but without persistence, commitment and discipline your ideas stay ambiguous and underdeveloped. For its successes I still think that Perfume as Practice could be better, and I want to start by consolidating everything I have learnt from my first year as a fine art perfumer in order to make more refined and coherent perfumes for forthcoming exhibitions.
Once again, a big thank you to everyone who came to the Private View! …Perfume as Practice runs from now until 18th March at Bank Street Arts (Wednesday – Saturday, 11-4)