playing with perfume | speculating on studio spaces | investigating creative processes

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Scents of Our Time – Closing Evening

I’ve been an artist in residence at Access Space for two weeks now, responding to news topics of the day through the unusual art form of candle making. Find out more about my thoughts and processes this coming Wednesday at Access Space from 5.30pm! full details here:

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I hope you can join me!

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Measuring Scent and Narrative

Last weekend I was part of a group exhibition at the Old Holy Trinity Church, Wentworth called ‘Measure’ – which looks at the human soul. My own offering was a scented narrative that suggests you can weigh your soul against the virtues of your job.

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This is the second outing of this particular body of work, with the first being at Sheffield Cathedral last year. I found that the informal yet contemplative space of Old Trinity Church lent itself more to audience engagement. this was evidenced by how many people took the time to look and contemplate what was in front of them. As such, conversations emerged about life, purpose, vocation, perceptions of self, perceptions of each other and indeed mortality.

It wasn’t all about Life’s Big Questions though, as the design and implementation of my work also revealed to an audience the capacity perfumery has for narrative. In this instance, the perfume I have created forms part of an installation that incorporates painting, 3D work and text. This allows my audience to directly comprehend perfumery against other more established art forms. It certainly holds it’s own and enhances the overall experience.

My next stop is Leeds for Horsforth Walk of Art, where I’ll be trialling a new idea based on perfume and emojis. Looking forward to it!

Pondering Platforms Project

Earlier this month I exhibited at Platforms Project, Athens as part of a group exhibition that looked at the contemplation of our solar system. I, alongside artists Sharon Mossbeck and Alison Whitmore, took 3 planets and interpreted them through our own modes of enquiry with reference to Ancient Greece.

Sharon’s work comprised painting and cross-stitch, Alison’s comprised sculptural and works and I presented 3 perfumes, each representing the Greek gods of Zeus, Kronos and Ouranos.

Platforms Project – which is an art fair – was well attended. It reached 16,000 people and our exhibition was well received. I even managed to sell a thing or two, which is great. There are, however, a few caveats with regard to my own work that should be addressed if I am to learn anything and develop from the experience. You see, after much consideration of how to translate three Greek Gods into a scented experience, I decided ultimately to play it straight – simply designing 3 perfumes that acted as portraits of each God. I assumed that this would result in a clear connection between object and concept and would transcend language barriers.

Ironically, by playing it so straight I exposed just how obtuse the notion of a perfume portrait actually is. While the audience did seem to rather like the scents and visual embellishment on display at a base level, the link between the perfumes and the Greek Gods wasn’t as clear as I thought it would be. It required further explanation, which wasn’t always easy to do due to a combination of a complex concept and the language barrier. (although this is partly my fault – I really ought to learn Greek if I’m going there every year.)

Interestingly, a volunteer who also helped out with Platforms Project last year said that she remembered the scented experience I designed last year and that, while she liked what I did this year, she loved what I did last year, which was essentially a narrative based on the notion of The Grand Tour, which incorporated scent:

So perhaps scented sculptural work designed to tell a story, rather than a straight perfume portrait, would actually be more successful in engaging a wider audience? Or maybe the Greek Gods and the complexities of their narratives would benefit from a different approach to a straight perfume portrait? Perhaps a more careful consideration of why I’m choosing specific scented designs is required, based on the concepts I’m trying to reveal.

Either way, it was once again a pleasure to exhibit at Platforms Project and naturally it was another great chance to visit a beautiful city. But maybe next time I’ll leave the perfume at home.

Zeus 50ml EDT

Zeus

Head – Elemi, Lime, Cotton

Heart – Black Pepper, Ginger

Body – Patchouli, Cumin Seed

Full of unwavering energy; the initial blast of lime, compounded dry the earthy readiness of patchouli and the potency of cumin seed describes the electric effects of thunder and lightning. This is offset by the woody accord of Elemi, referencing Zeus’ hidden childhood suspended from a tree. Black Pepper and Ginger forms a heart shared with Kronos and Ouranos; referencing family connections. Cotton, alludes to Zeus’s overseeing of the sky.

This fragrance is on display during Platforms Project 2018 at Athens School of Fine Arts.

 

 

Kronos 50ml EDT

Kronos

Head – Dill Seed, Lemongrass, Basil

Heart – Black Pepper, Ginger

Body – Patchouli, Myrrh

Description – Titan of the harvest; Dill seed, lemongrass and patchouli describe a plentiful abundance of produce. Basil references the confidence needed to instigate the battle with Ouranos. 5 drops of myrrh reference the 5 children he ate, while it’s heavy, lingering quality also alludes to the personification of time. Black Pepper and Ginger forms a heart shared with Ouranos; referencing family connections.

 

This fragrance is on display during Platforms Project 2018 at Athens School of Fine Arts.

 

Ouranos 50ml EDT

Ouranous

Head – Petitgrain, Rosemary,  Cotton

Heart – Black Pepper, Ginger

Body – Sandalwood, Driftwood

Description – Petitgrain, black pepper and ginger referencing a godly masculinity and confidence due to their sharp, penetrating aroma which exudes assurance and assertion. Cotton, with it’s clean, fresh and light accord, references Ouranos’ overseeing of the sky. Rosemary, with its connections to the sea, references the narrative of Ouranos’ being castrated and having his testicles cast into the sea This is reinforced by driftwood. Sandalwood has deep connections to earth, referencing the importance of Gaia.

This fragrance is on display during Platforms Project 2018 at Athens School of Fine Arts.

 

Perfumes and Planets

Next week I travel to Athens to participate in Platforms Project – an independent art fair in the heart of the city. It’s the 3rd time I will have entered work into the art fair, and the 2nd time I’ve directly been involved in the curation and installation of my work.

This year my participation in Platforms Project will once again take the guise of a group exhibition. The exhibition, entitled ‘Wonderer’ seeks to reacquaint an audience with Ancient Greek appropriations of the planets.

The exhibition comprises 3 artists – myself, Sharon Mossbeck and Alison Whitmore – and we have taken 3 planets each to interpret, explore and interpret from an Ancient Greek context. My chosen planets are Uranus, Saturn and Jupiter. Or, as the Ancient Greeks would have it; Ouranous, Kronos and Zeus – three Greek Gods with a family lineage.

So how does a fine art perfumer go about creating something from these three Gods? Well, by taking advantage of the family lineage and utilising the capacity fragrance has for narrative, metaphor and I have encapsulated the planets of Ouranous, Kronos and Zeus in three separate fragrances.

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Each fragrance contains potent spices and woody notes; alluding to their godly, confident qualities and direct family history. Yet they also contain delicate floral notes, zesty fruits and earthy spices in an attempt to describe each God’s individual narrative.

Each perfume is a portrait of the respective God and is as rich and complex as you might expect from portraiture. Hopefully my audience at Platforms Project will agree that my unique approach to perfumery reveals a meaningful and untapped art form.

Perfume Portrait #82 – John Alfred

 John Alfred 50ml EDT

Head – Petitgrain

Heart – Fennel, ginger

Body – Sandalwood, myrrh

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Description – A fiery and masculine free spirit, this fragrance utilises the sense of mental aptitude found in woods and spices to point towards ways to innovative, create and have a little fun at the same time.

This perfume is one of fifteen housed at Bureau, Blackburn from 12th – 26th April as part of my solo exhibition, Perfume as Practice.

Perfume Portrait #81 – Emily Feirn

Emily Feirn 50ml EDT

Head – Bergamot

Heart – Lavendar, black pepper

Body – Ylang Ylang

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Description – Nominally floral with notes that reference tranquillity, joy and, relaxation. This calmness is offset by black pepper, which captures a spirited sense of individuality.

This perfume is one of fifteen housed at Bureau, Blackburn from 12th – 26th April as part of my solo exhibition, Perfume as Practice.

Perfume Portrait #80 – Louise Waller

Louise Waller 50ml EDT

Head – Niaouli, grapefruit

Heart – Spike lavender

Body – Ylang Ylang, hyssop

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Description – An implied floral fragrance that is content, brimming with peace yet not afraid to show a playful, experimental side: The addition of grapefruit, clove and hyssop bridge notes disrupt the process of making a floral composition as an ode to the value of trial and error.

This perfume is one of fifteen housed at Bureau, Blackburn from 12th – 26th April as part of my solo exhibition, Perfume as Practice.

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