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

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Orchard Square Residency – The Story So Far

Perfume as Practice – my current artist’s residency at Orchard Square, Sheffield – affords me one month housed in what is nominally a retail unit in the heart of Sheffield city centre. Positioned in between Starbucks and Waterstones, my residency aims to confound expectations of another product with highly commercial connotations – perfume. My residency provides other artists with a free consultancy service, and the perfumes will be designed as an intimate and direct response to the thoughts, desires and personalities revealed by the artists willing to participate in the process. The perfumes will then be displayed as portraits that capture the essence of artists living and working in Sheffield’s collective communities.

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I want my audience to be directed to alternative ways of considering perfume and what perfume can accommodate within a contemporary art context. But I also want to challenge preconceived notions of how artists occupy public spaces.

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But while this is all well and good, I need some kind of audience. So what of it? Well, footfall is a little low but the effectiveness of word-of-mouth is not to be underestimated; around half of my visitors have attended due to hearing about it from their friends. Constant pushing of the project on social media has also attracted attention and as such I have set myself a target of being able to create 30 perfume portraits within the space before the residency ends.

This is a reasonable target and one that will eclipse the ‘most amount of perfume I’ve exhibited at one exhibition’ record set by my first ever Perfume as Practice solo show at Bank Street Arts last year. But it’s a target that I strive towards as it will provide confirmation of a well-attended residency. Whether it’s a well-regarded residency or not will rely on continued efforts by myself to make it the best it can be.

20171004_142215The residency has also presented another somewhat unexpected challenge – that of remaining fully engaged and proactive throughout the duration: As every day of October will involve either working in my residency or working in other employment, I seek to take measures to prevent mental and physical fatigue. I have, for example, changed my diet a little in order to distribute an even amount of energy throughout the day. I’ve also tried (with varying degrees of success) to cut out junk foods. This sort of physical challenge is a somewhat unexpected quirk, but frankly I’m enjoying living a healthier lifestyle and find that it informs my mental aptitude when creating perfumes with immediacy and in situ.

So, onwards and upwards! I still have over two weeks occupying Orchard Square. So please pop in if you can. And if you’re an artist, take advantage of my services and have a perfume portrait made for you. For free!

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Call Out to Artists – Why do You Make Art?

***Call out to artists – Why do you make art?***

My upcoming solo exhibition at Surface Gallery, Nottingham, will see me exhibit 20 perfumes. Each perfume will be a portrait of another artist, achieved through an established process that begins by asking artists the question ‘why do you make art?’ Then, through a method of intuition and investigation, I choose relevant and meaningful oils based on the answer received in order to create a fragrance that captures the essence of who you are.

What I need first and foremost though is 20 artists willing to provide a response to the question ‘why do you make art?’ So if you’re an artist (in any sense of the word) and are interested in the idea of encapsulating your persona in fragrance, then I’d love to hear from you with a response to the question ‘Why do you make art?’

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The call out works on a first-come-first-served basis. But if I do already have 20 artists by the time you submit your response don’t worry – I’ll use it for one of my solo shows coming up in 2018.

Looking forward to reading your responses and getting to work creating wonderful fragrances!

Perfume as Practice will run at Surface Gallery from 3rd – 18th November 2017. 

Perfume as Practice at Orchard Square

October sees me occupy a craft unit in Orchard Square, Sheffield as part of a Perfume as Practice artist’s residency. I will be creating bespoke perfumes in the space itself, in an effort to celebrate the art of perfumery and explore the possibilities of scent.

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Perfume as Practice will see me craft many diverse and individual perfumes, each a portrait of another artist. I will create these perfume portraits through a one-on-one consultancy with any willing artist that comes through the door. The consultancy will involve a series of questions and tests to determine the personalities and creative desires of artists, the responses and results of which will be immediately analysed and interpreted in order to create meaningful fragrances that capture the essence of who each artist is.

Whether you’re an artist or not, Perfume as Practice will provide fantastic opportunity to find out more about artistic approaches to perfume making, discover the craft of creating fragrances and become acquainted with any perfumes I have made during the residency at any given time. Just like any other means of portraiture, each perfume will be unique, complex and highly personal, yet will allow an audience to interpret them in their own way. By utilising the craft of perfumery, Perfume as Practice also highlights alternative ways of thinking about portraiture, scent and art in general!

Opening Times and Events

Perfume as Practice runs from 30th September – 28th October 2017 on the first floor of Orchard Square (nestled between the first floors of Waterstones and Starbucks). It will be open Wednesday, Friday and Saturday 12-4pm, and Sunday 12-2pm.

There will also be a closing event on Thursday 26th October, from 5-7pm. This event will see me provide an artist talk, explaining the ideas and processes behind Perfume as Practice. During this event all of the perfumes created through the residency will be on display. This will allow an audience to acquaint themselves, through scent, with the collective thoughts, desires and personalities of artists from Sheffield and beyond. Participating artist can also use this opportunity to take their perfume portraits home.

Perfume Making Workshops.

Perfume as Practice will run 2 Perfume Making Workshops. These workshops give participants a fantastic opportunity to find out more about my approach to perfumery, create a perfume of their own and explore the possibilities of fragrance. These workshops will take place on Saturday 7th October, 2-4pm and Saturday 21st October, 2-4pm.

Workshops cost £5 per person, all materials are provided. Spaces are limited so to book you must email Michael on borkowskyart@gmail.com to register your interest.

hope to see you there!

Assessing Alternative Portraits

Last night saw the opening of Alternative Portraits – a group exhibition at Access Space, Sheffield devised by myself and Sharon Mossbeck.

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The aim of Alternative Portraits was to investigate innovative depictions of portraits as well as provide a platform for artists who approach portraiture in a fresh and challenging way.

16 artists from across the UK are represented, each with their own response to the theme of ‘Alternative Portraits.’. My own contribution saw me design a perfume self portrait. This was achieved through my established process of posing the question ‘Why do you make art? then, through a method of interpretation and investigation, choosing fragrance oils and visual embellishments relevant to the response received. This process is usually reserved for other artists – it was the first time I responded to the question myself – though it was actually rather cathartic; revealing something honest about my creative output and how I wish to be perceived.

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The exhibition seemed well received, with the audience citing the high quality of each work and the cohesive yet varied nature of the collection as a whole. The wide array of disciplines and approaches on display means there was something simultaneously familiar and challenging for everyone. This resulted in a rather rich experience and this is underpinned by some fantastic feedback, which we are very grateful for.

You can catch Alternative Portraits at Access Space, Sheffield, from Wednesday – Friday, 11-6, every week up until 4th October. 

A Scented Self Portrait

Through an established process of asking artists ‘Why do you make art?’ then using the response received to inform the use of fragrances, I have been making ‘perfume portraits’ of other artists for over 2 years, amassing 40 perfumes so far – and counting.

Naturally, the question that emerges as an audience becomes more familiar with my work is ‘Have you made a self portrait in this way?’ The answer, up until now, has been no.

However, upon devising a group exhibition (along with fellow artist Sharon Mossbeck) entitled Alternative Portraits, an opportunity emerged to subject myself to my own processes, thus achieving a perfume that captures my essence.

It’s also an opportunity to get firm with myself – directly externalising and ordering the processes that drive my creative output. It could result a cathartic and affirming statement that reinforces my creative integrity. Or it could result in a muddle of contradictions that throws up more questions than answers. Either way, it’s something of a challenge.

So, I presented to myself the question: ‘Why do I make art?’ Ultimately I concluded that it’s because I strive to find alternatives. Alternatives to pre-established conventions and alternative ways of experiencing, relating and responding to the world around us. To provide an alternative is to provide new means of communication that can potentially instigate social, moral and political change, provide agency, bolster and unify communities, and bring together otherwise fractious sets of people. An alternative can be important, necessary and powerful.

From my answer, the notion of the trailblazer emerged, and it’s dual meaning –  as one who discovers something new and makes it accessible and one who prepares a trial through a forest – have informed the fragrant and aesthetic designs of my ‘perfume self portrait’.

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My perfume’s visual designs are based on the Czech Hiking Markers System. It’s a system that’s universal in it’s method of communication and can be used in a literal sense to illustrate new directions. It’s also a system that’s adopted in the Ukraine, and as such provides a neat, if abstract, nod to a certain part of my heritage.

The fragrance itself takes cues from the outdoors – woody fragrances allude to the very notion of the trailblazer; from the physical act of forging new grounds to the emotional tenacity and presence of mind to persist with innovation for the greater good.

Floral tones are also present, describing a certain vulnerability within my creative processes: A ‘fine art perfumer’ is a somewhat untested and undeveloped space to occupy, and is something I am moulding myself without any real precedence. As such, there exists a delicacy and nuance that emerges when the steps I take to assert my creative integrity are more unsure and tentative.

I do feel my perfume as though my self portrait is well rounded. It describes the spirit of innovation and trailblazing, yet has the humility to understand the untested task in hand.

But don’t take my word for it, come and have a sniff for yourself at ‘Alternative Portraits’ – which opens at Access Space, Sheffield, with an Opening Evening on the 8th September, 5.30pm – 8pm.

Preparing for Orchard Square

Nestled between three established perfume retailers, October will see me take up an artists’ residence in Orchard Square, Sheffield. Nominally a retail unit, my residency will hope to subvert preconceptions of fragrance, which is steeped in consumerism and profit. It will instead highlight the capacity perfume has for portraiture, and will offer an alternative function for fragrance, placing it as a potent means of communication.

Watch this space.

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Scents of Our Time #2 – Fields of Wheat

All the fun and frolics of the outdoors without the indignity of displeasing any farmers, Fields of Wheat lets you unleash your naughty side with the earthy, heartening aroma of cut grass, pine needle and carrot seed. Perfect for when entertaining a politically-charged dinner party.

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Scents of Our Time is an ongoing series of work that explores the capacity scent has for social, moral and political commentary in relation to everyday life.

Scents of Our Time #1 – One Minute Silence

The ‘One Minute Silence’ has found unsettling prominence among our everyday lives in the wake of recent atrocities, particularly here in Britain. It is a period of silent and respectful contemplation usually in the wake of a tragic event.

As an expression of the sentiment of the one minute silence, and as a means to reveal the capacity scent has for humility and quiet observation, I bring to you the One Minute Silence candle. A fragrance that bears witness to tragedy with respect and harnesses the notions of  humanity and compassion. It’s both a tool and companion for moments of meaningful silence.

Nominally relaxing, but with a view to ease the mind into respectful and meditative thought. This blend of frankincense, lavender and sandalwood affords a grounded mental capacity which allows you to engage in reflection and contemplation.

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Scents of Our Time is an ongoing series of work that explores the capacity scent has for social, moral and political commentary in relation to everyday life.

Here and Now

I have been invited to submit small scale works for Here and Now – an exhibition at ASC Studios, London- later this month. The exhibition has given me further opportunity to acquaint myself with cartography and, particularly, the capacity cartography has for symbolism and hidden language:

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I present to the exhibition two postcards, each depicting and exaggerating our collective relationships with travel, experiences and sense of place. These postcards harness the notion of a phantom map (i.e a map that depicts a fictitious geographical space) and as such, use the language of drawing to highlight the enrichment gained from travel.

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Here and Now will be showing at ASC Studios, London, from 18th – 25th July. The Opening Evening is on the 18th July from 6-8pm. All welcome!

 

 

 

Open Call to Artists – Alternative Portraits

The deadline for this open call has now closed. 

An Open Call to submit work for an exhibition of Alternative Portraits.

Artists Michael Borkowsky and Sharon Mossbeck present Alternative Portraits, an open call exhibition of non-traditional portraiture to be run at Access Space, Sheffield, from 8th September – 4th October 2017.

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We are looking for artists to submit work to us under the theme of Alternative Portraits. We are particularly interested in the use of new technologies, such as 3D printing and laser cutting, but this is not a requirement. We are looking for work which pushes the boundaries of traditional portraiture, or explores what portraiture can be. Please interpret the theme of the Alternative Portraits as you see fit.

The exhibition will be at Access Space, Sheffield from 8th September – 4th October. The exhibition opening hours will be Wednesday – Friday 11am – 6pm, and there will be a private view on 8th September from 5.30– 8pm. Everyone welcome.

The deadline for submissions will be Friday 4th August. Applicants will then be notified on Friday 11th August as to whether their application has been successful.

Guidelines for Submitting work

Please follow these guidelines for submitting work. We will only consider applications which follow these guidelines:

  • Artists may only submit one piece of work. (if a work is made up of separate components – e.g a painting made up of 3 canvasses – then we will still deem it to be one piece of work)
  • The piece of work submitted must measure no more than 1 meter across any given width
  • Regretfully, Audio/Visual or performance works cannot be accommodated
  • Please only submit work which is already complete
  • If your work is framed, please ensure that it is string-backed
  • If work has any unusual requirements (e.g. it is particularly heavy or needs hanging in a particular way) please tell of how you would like this to be done
  • We cannot accept applications received after the deadline (4th August)

How to Submit Work

To submit work, please email up to 3 images of the work you want to show to alternativeportraits2017@gmail.com along with the following:

  • Your name
  • Your email address
  • Your home town/ city
  • Title of work
  • Materials used
  • Dimensions of the piece
  • Price (if you wish to offer the work for sale)
  • A statement of no more than 100 words (this may be included in the exhibition alongside your work)
  • Date when the work was completed

Hand in Dates

Please note that the venue for handing your work to us is different to the exhibition venue.

If your submission is successful, you will have between 11th August and 2nd September to get your work to us. You may do this by doing one of the following:

  • Posting your work to Exchange Place Studios, Exchange St, Sheffield S2 5SZ
  • Delivering your work in person to reception at Exchange Place Studios, which is open weekdays from 11am – 4pm.
  • We will be present in Exchange Place Studios from 11-4pm on Friday 1st and Saturday 2nd September if you’d rather hand your work to the organisers in person

When you deliver your work to us, please ensure that it is as specified in the original submission, complete and presented as you wish it to be exhibited and, if framed, ready to hang. We cannot be held responsible for work that gets lost or damaged in the post.

Collection Dates

Please note that the venue for collecting your work from us is different to the exhibition venue.

After the exhibition you can collect your work in person from Exchange Place Studios on either the 6th or 7th October, between 11am and 4pm.

You may also make arrangements for us to post your work back to you. If you wish to do this, we will require the correct postage and packaging costs to be paid to us in advance, and you must allow the expected delivery to be between 7th October – 7th November 2017. You may wish to consider handing us a stamped addressed envelope when initially handing work to us to ensure a quicker return delivery.

Sales

Your work may be up for sale. Access Space don’t take any commission but as a charity ask that, should you wish to donate some of your proceeds from sales to them you may do so, but you’re under no obligation.

 

Thank you and good luck! ~ Michael and Sharon
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