This October saw me stage my ninth Perfume as Practice exhibition, which was held at Centrespace Gallery, Bristol and featured 18 perfumes, each a portrait of another artist and created using my well-established process that begins by asking artists the question ‘why do you make art?’ then responding to the answer received through scent design; capturing the essence of the artist.
As well as the core principle of subverting our expectations of perfumery by placing it in a contemporary art context, each Perfume as Practice exhibition strives to develop the project as a whole. Previously this has included incorporating visual elements, working towards specific themes and even placing the project alongside the work of another artist: All of which aimed to devise and assess different ways visitors may encounter perfume in a contemporary art space.
So, what was it about this incarnation that developed the project? Well, this was the first time that the perfume portraits were exhibited alongside visual work created by the artists themselves. So the audience encountered 18 perfume portraits and 18 corresponding works of art, and as such they were able to associate the perfumes with the artists involved in a direct and meaningful way.
This added a new and welcome dimension to Perfume as Practice, as visitors took visible delight in connecting each perfume to each visual piece and ascertaining how I arrived at each perfume portrait. This actually made my perfume making process all the more transparent, as I was able to physically show audiences the work of each artist, and each artist elicited a presence within the exhibition. It was also interesting to witness audiences utilising both scent and vision to fully experience the exhibition; intuitively connecting one sense to another through engagement with art.
Was it the most accomplished Perfume as Practice incarnation? Quite possibly. Though that’s thanks in no small part to the artists themselves, who were as follows:
Heather Fiona Martin
It was also fantastic to exhibit at Centrespace, which is a wonderful gallery (you should check it out, seriously!) I would like to thank Arts Council England for their support too.
So now to secure a few gallery spaces for Perfume as Practice in 2020…
Head – Eucalyptus, Bergamot
Heart – Cinnamon, Coriander
Body – Patchouli
Description – A refreshing, powerful and inherently colourful potion that gifts awe and happiness to all those who encounter it whilst providing the empathy, mental strength and grounding required to combat injustices through creative action.
This fragrance will be exhibited alongside 9 other perfume portraits at Lumen Crypt Gallery, London from 4th – 7th April.
Jackie Berridge 50ml EDT
Head – Lemon
Heart – Geranium
Body – Rosewood, Ylang Ylang
Description – A childhood sense of wonder heads this fragrance and is referenced by the playfulness of lemon. From there the fragrance reveals blooming flowers and majestic trees; a testament to how childhood informs creativity and how embracing and nurturing innate passions allow them to bloom and grow.
This perfume is one of fifteen housed at Bureau, Blackburn from 12th – 26th April as part of my solo exhibition, Perfume as Practice.
Holly Kerslake 50ml EDT
Head – Tangerine, Basil
Heart – Ginger, Geranium
Body – Ylang Ylang, Myrrh
Description – Playful disruptions of a conventional Eau De Toilette are present here, providing a simultaneous sense of innovation and anomaly that nevertheless amounts to a true fragrance composition.
This fragrance was housed at Surface Gallery, Nottingham, from 3rd – 18th November 2017.
Julianne Chauhan 50ml EDT
Head – Bergamot
Heart – Geranium, Camphor
Body – Myrrh, Cumin Seed
Description – This fragrance weaves a rich narrative that describes the vulnerability of liberation. Delicate florals are offset by an expressive citrus and placed in a complex bed of wood and musk.
This fragrance was on display at Surface Gallery, Nottingham, from 2nd – 18th November 2017.
This November saw me open my 4th Perfume as Practice solo show – and the first one to be ran outside Sheffield. Perfume as Practice AW17 opened at Surface Gallery, Nottingham, on the 3rd November and runs until the 18th.
This particular incarnation comprises 20 perfume portraits and 5 painted representations of constellations. I have chosen ‘Constellations’ as an overarching theme because it occurred to me that there are parallels between space and fragrance – both are mysterious, intangible and difficult to fully describe. So I deduced that placing them beside each other might extend our knowledge and relationship with both.
Once again, the exhibition has been well received, with my innovative approach to perfumery cited as a key point of intrigue. It’s been fun exhibiting in a city that has no pre-conceptions of my work, and it’s encouraged a deeper consideration of how fragrance can exist in a space relative to an overarching theme. I certainly think that the visual elements of the exhibition fully compliment the fragrances.
The fragrances, as ever, are achieved through a process that begins by asking artists the question ‘why do you make art?’ Then, through a established method of interpretation and investigation, relevant and meaningful fragrance are combined in order to achieve a perfume that captures the essence of each artist. It’s a process that is becoming increasingly honed, and the simple act undergoing this process for almost 3 years has developed my skills as a fine art perfumer. As such, I can appreciate the relative coherence of my my recent perfumes. Though hopefully this process will just see me continuously improve.
Perfume as Practice continues at Surface Gallery until 18th November.
M. Sasaki 50ml EDT
A mellow scent designed to embrace mistakes. Here, an approximation for the sky has been achieved through the joy of making a mess. A dripping mass of yellow makes for a sun while the speedy and zestful application of blue completes a bold image. Perfect for those moments of pure unabashed freedom.
The ultimate de-stress tonic with the ability to conjure a few surprises. Frankincense, geranium and lemon combine to relax. Cinnamon, an anomaly within the context of the other fragrances, may be a mistake, yet still adheres to a relaxing vibe.
This fragrance was created by interpreting and investigating a response to the question ‘Why do you make art?’ If you are an artist (in the broadest sense of the word) I would love to her your response to the question too, as it will enable me to create a perfume portrait that captures the essence of your creative persona.
This perfume will be on display at Bank Street Arts, Sheffield, from 2-18th March 2016. There will be a Private View on the 2nd March from 6-8pm. More details
Yesterday I held a perfume making workshop at Bank Street Arts which gave the participants the chance to make their own fragrance and gave a sneak peek (or a sneak sniff) of some of the perfumes that will be on display for my upcoming exhibition.
Within a formal and relaxed atmosphere I talked a little about my approach to perfumery and how it can be a platform for portraiture. I then gave a demonstration of the perfume making process before overseeing participants make scents of their own.
I don’t claim to be a perfume making expert but one string to my bow which separates me from conventional perfumers is the freedom of experimentation and failure. It doesn’t matter if I make a bit of a hash of a fragrance, because it’s a learning process. And it doesn’t necessarily matter if a fragrance smells nice, because my approach seeks to place perfumery within a fine art context. I think this translates into a pertinent learning experience, which seems to have inspired, and made people think about the possibilities of scent and the implications of finding alternative functions of a pre-conceived product.
All in all, this workshop was a great way to talk about perfume from the context of fine art and I’ll be running drop-in workshops during my exhibition.