artist | playing with perfume | speculating on studio spaces | commenting with candles

Latest

A Perfumer in a Pandemic

As soon as lockdown was announced I endeavoured to adapt and continue developing my artistic practice as much as possible. What actually happened was I ended up playing with Lego.

In fairness I began in earnest; visiting my studio at the end of March in order to pack as many things as possible into a few suitcases and construct a studio of sorts in my dining room. Proudly, I arranged my bottles, essential oils and paints orderly and took a few pictures for the inevitable Instagram post.

For a fair few weeks these materials mostly sat idle. Perhaps the process of adapting took longer than expected, as a slew of cancelled or postponed projects combined with a stark recalculation of finances to take hold on my state of mind. This, alongside a general lack of motivation when I try to work from home, meant that any creative output was reserved, not for perfumery, but curiously, Lego.

Making Lego sets based on the theme of isolation relaxed my mind and provided a rather joyful means of escapism. From a yeti living in an igloo to a sailor stranded on an Island, thinking of scenarios for Lego minifigues within the context of isolation was challenging and varied while being carefree. A cathartic, cleansing process that equipped me for the next step; getting back to doing some ‘proper’ artwork.

In fairness, I resumed in earnest. From the latter part of April, a renewed vigour for professional practice took hold. Since then I made a video for BasementArtsProject, began setting up on online shop, created two commercial fragrances, started making a video for Bristol Museum and Art Gallery and started researching future exhibition opportunities. Quite a jump in activity, no doubt ignited by the realisation that that spending all day at home, while by no means coming to an end, won’t be forever, so I should make the most of the opportunity.

And perhaps I’m judging my relative inactivity prior too harshly. After all we have all developed our own strategies for coping with lockdown; each perfectly valid. And it’s not like my professional practice lay completely dormant, as I co-devised and co-curated an online exhibition over on Instagram, called Fronteer Lockdown, from the end of March and I made a live video for Artcore, Derby at the beginning of April.

So while I am cautiously looking to the future I can tentatively claim to be proud of what I am achieving during lockdown. And I’m still tinkering with a bit of Lego.

Making a Commercial Perfume

This rather innocuous image represents the initial development of something I have thus far unexplored; selling perfume commercially.

IMG_20200220_133611192

This perfume sample – outsourced to fragrance suppliers Carvansons to my specifications – will be sold at Bristol Museum and Art Gallery from May 2020, to coincide with their upcoming Pre-Raphaelite exhibition.

While this unisex fragrance is designed with an element of mass appeal, it still contains a certain conceptual weight, as it acts as an olfactory depiction of the Pre-Raphaelites and their nostalgic interpretation of medieval life. The fragrance is filled will abundant fruits and florals, representing a bountiful and quintessentially English existence. The perfume finishes with exotic spices and musks, which reference human endeavour and conquest.

Look out for my perfume if you’re in Bristol this summer!

Nice to See You…

January always feels like a rather difficult month to instigate and artistic action. The excesses of Christmas last longer than they should; the cold winter air quells any motivation and then there’s the small matter of completing a tax return…

Luckily then, I have been able to take part in a group exhibition without hardly having to lift a finger, all thanks to no less an institution that the University of Chester – the university I graduated at in 2007.

IMG_20200124_175921516

Nice to See You to See You Nice is a group exhibition featuring work from staff, students and alumni from the University of Chester, and is housed at CASC – a fantastic contemporary space in the heart of Chester set up by the University.

My work – Seven Keys – is nestled between over 70 other artists, makers and designers each connected to Chester University. It’s great how the exhibition acts as such a social platform; the opening evening on Friday 24th January was a hive of conversations between Chester University affiliates, each brought together through artistic practice. Perhaps the exhibition will reaffirm some friendships, encourage collaborations or instigate further creative endeavour.

Seven Keys is a series of perfumes about love and lust. Presented are 7 perfumes; only one is a concoction of natural ingredients which represent the virtues of love. The rest comprise of synthetic oils and represent lust.

IMG_20200124_170235791

Seven Keys is a great introduction to the possibilities of perfumery – highlighting that with careful scent design perfume can house narrative and symbolism. The theme also lends itself to valentine’s Day, which is useful as Nice to See You to See You Nice runs until 12th March. The opening hours are Mondays – Tuesdays 10-4; Fridays 12 – 6; Saturdays 10 – 4.

Perfume Portrait #124 – Helen Sills

Helen Sills 50ml EDT

Head – Orange, Lemon

Heart – Apricot, pomegranate

Body – Cocoa Bean, Vanilla

Description – A veritable horn of plenty that references the all-encompassing nature of creative action and it’s many avenues.

IMG_20191009_160216680_HDR

Sills’s Lost Dreams relates to the tragic end of many migrants who set out on a voyage to a new life and never make land.

IMG_20191009_160156353

Sills’s work and corresponding perfume portrait were exhibited at Centrespace Gallery, Bristol, in October 2019.

Perfume Portrait #123 – Liz Griffiths

Liz Griffiths 50ml EDT

Head – Peppermint, Bitter orange

Heart – Spike lavender

Body –  Chamomile

Description – Formulated to release your throat charka; this light, fresh fragrance describes how creative action acts as a voice.

IMG_20191006_131119690

Griffith’s drawing, Untitled, was made on a bus journey, allowing the motion of the bus to guide the pen; it is part of a larger series made mostly in London, this one was made in Cornwall. Using this process, Griffiths is exploring ideas of authorship.

IMG_20191006_131042218

Griffiths’s work and corresponding perfume portrait were exhibited at Centrespace Gallery, Bristol, in October 2019.

Perfume Portrait #122 – Stig Evans

Stig Evans 50ml EDT

Head – Tea Tree, Clary Sage

Heart –  Dandelion

Body – Patchouli, Honey

Description –  A picture of alchemy, here the act of attempting to achieve Magnum Opus may or may not result in perfumery.

IMG_20191008_110307872

Evans’s Ferry is a Digitally manipulated photograph.

IMG_20191008_110231011

Evans’s work and corresponding perfume portrait were exhibited at Centrespace Gallery, Bristol, in October 2019.

Perfume Portrait #121 – Andrea Freeman

Andrea Freeman 50ml EDT

Head – Lemongrass, spearmint

Heart – Juniper berry, black pepper

Body – Rosewood, amber

Description –  Through intense mints and amber his fragrance references ‘Horme’ – a Greek spirit representing impulsive activity – while adhering to an authentic woody fragrance design.

IMG_20191006_153232726

Of her photograph Past Present, Future, Freeman states: ‘Travelling in a plane or train or car, I feel stationary in the present, even though I am moving, whilst the world passes by me, sometimes fast, sometimes slowly. My destination, the future is unknowable, obscured, whilst the past is reflected in the wing mirror. Past, present and future, time and space confusion – as a voyage.’

IMG_20191006_153142831

Freeman’s work and corresponding perfume portrait were exhibited at Centrespace Gallery, Bristol, in October 2019.

Perfume Portrait #120 – Marisa Culatto

Marisa Culatto 50ml EDT

Head – Rosemary, Peppermint

Heart – Marjoram

Body – Mulled wine, Frankincense

Description – An ode to Hungary Water; the first known European perfume making process which still informs our understanding of the workings of scent.

IMG_20191005_170617774

Culatto’s Honest Landscape 2 was taken on a road from within the car. Thus it depicts a journey. It does so literally, but also conceptually as part of a series of photographs put through an established process that sees original images reworked, printed with a faulty home printer (which distorts colours), manually crumpled, and re-photographed again. This highlights how process driven work places the artist on a personal journey as well as the literal journey portrayed in the subject matter.

IMG_20191005_170309870

Culatto’s work and corresponding perfume portrait were exhibited at Centrespace Gallery, Bristol, in October 2019.

Perfume Portrait #119 – Catherine Higham

Catherine Higham 50ml EDT

Head – Fresh linen

Heart – Geranium, Indian geranium, Rose geranium, Rose

Body – Ylang ylang

Description – Referencing an essential oil discovery set, this fragrance acts as a test bed for floral fragrances, offset by a clean, neutral top note. Perfect for discovering preferences and nuances.

IMG_20191006_152938378_HDR

Higham’s painting Horizon is concerned with the materials and processes of landscape; both natural and fabricated.

IMG_20191006_152858444

Higham’s work and corresponding perfume portrait were exhibited at Centrespace Gallery, Bristol, in October 2019.

Perfume Portrait #118 – Agatha Smith

Agatha Smith 50ml EDT

Head – Mandarin

Heart –  Rose, Clove

Body –  Ylang Ylang, Cumin seed

Description –  At first glance this fragrance references a traditional, deliberate floral design. However, hints of spice add personality and exploration that allow it to break its own monotony.

IMG_20191007_141828325

177 Woolwich to Peckham is the first piece from Smith’s Pocket Drawing series. Her most recent work is focused around the realisation that everyone in the world is living a life just as complex as our own, populated by their own repetitive, chaotic routines and inevitable daily journeys.

IMG_20191007_141740468

Smith’s work and corresponding perfume portrait were exhibited at Centrespace Gallery, Bristol, in October 2019.

%d bloggers like this: