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Posts tagged “ideas

Perfume Portrait #56 – Marc Willetts

Marc Willetts 50ml EDT 20171103_202825

Head – Peppermint, Grapefruit, Rosemary

Heart – Pine Needle, Ginger

Body – Cedarwood

Description – Piercing citrus and warming oriental notes allows this fragrance to champion an active mind. Yet a sturdy, woody base allows provides a solid foundation for ideas to grow.

This fragrance was house at Surface Gallery, Nottingham, from 3rd – 18th November 2017

Notes on Ideas

Further reflections on Perfume as Practice have lead to the following conclusions:

  1. If you think you have a good idea, think of a better one.
  2. Only about 2 ideas per year are really good enough to instigate sustained creative activity.
  3. Strive for innovation.
  4. That is all, initially.

A Period of Quiet Development

Almost three weeks has past since Perfume as Practice – my exhibition at Bank Street Arts – closed. It’s been a reasonably quiet period, comprising chiefly of plotting further navigations into the world of perfumery. Something persistent from the exhibition that I keep mentally revisiting is the idea that, although Perfume as Practice was successful and very well received, I still feel as though I could improve it.


It’s just as well, seeing as it was the first time I outwardly projected my approach to perfumery. I know full well that the quality of the perfume, while ok, still lacked a degree of authenticity needed to propel the exhibition from an arts space to a speculative perfumery space. This is something I wanted to do as to engage a wider audience.

I wanted the exhibition to reveal itself as a fine art endeavour, while initially appearing as a perfume shop. I wanted to do this as to reassess the virtues of a shop space, how we experience and identify with consumer products and how we can disrupt this process. In reality, I think my audience simply entered the space knowing it was an art exhibition about perfume. Perhaps a different approach to marketing was required, along with better quality bottles. I suppose it doesn’t matter too much, though it is important to understand the failings of an exhibition if you are to progress.

And what of the idea of creating perfume portraits? Well, I feel slightly conflicted about it. You see, I tend to strive for new ideas without attempting to define and develop them. It almost feels counter-intuitive to persist with the idea of perfume portraits, as my mind is filled with other ideas I wish to explore.

Though persist I certainly will. I do feel rather buoyed about just how well the exhibition was received. The idea of making portraits from perfume is very accessible yet innovative, and this is still the case. Therefore it seems correct to continue creating perfume portraits and attempting to extend our knowledge of what scent, perfume and portraiture can be.


Perhaps – heaven forbid – I am displaying a little maturity with Perfume as Practice. 5 years ago, I would have flitted between ideas without attempting to refine, define or meaningfully develop. A more disciplined head is telling me that developing the idea of perfume portraits will engage a wide audience whilst still striving for innovative and exciting ways of making art.

Research as Advertisements

My research findings towards perfumery have so far proved to be of great value – as a novice to perfumery, it has been fascinating learning the physical properties of perfume, the tension between scent and trying to read scent, understanding how smell works in relation to how we connect with the world and the different ways perfume is considered. Indeed, my findings can be directly and successfully applied to my work – allowing me to make informed decisions towards how to create perfume and how to use perfume to successfully accommodate my concepts. However, as the end result of my work intends to be that of creative practice, I have thought it both appropriate and valuable to find visual outputs for my research.

And so, I have began exploiting the nature of the advertisement to the point where is is able to become a visual representation of research, to the point where research is able to be displayed in a way which is applicable to an audience, allowing them to assess the end product in relation to the research:

ideas vessellWhy? Well, if I’m going to create what is essentially a perfume shop, then I want it to retain a shop’s inherent consumerist statements whilst attempting to almost subvert the notion of the advert – essentially, it will speculate what an advert will look like when it’s not trying to sell anything. Indeed, what it is doing instead is acting as an appendage to the shop environment whilst finding a practical way to display research findings. Also, it’s nice to see an advert for perfume that is actually quite literal, and not the usual idle lifestyle metaphors, don’t you think?!

I would hope that these ‘adverts’ would inform an audiences understanding of the perfumes I will create, as well as bolster the underlining concept – that of finding non-visual ways of completing incomplete visual ideas.

Bottled Up – Thoughts Towards Turning Ideas into Perfume

If we think of the reasons why an idea within creative practice remains unfinished, the implications are that the artist thinks the idea cannot be fully realised within any context or space. Possibly because it is too vague an idea, too fragmented, not applicable in relation to other output or perhaps just a little too tired, trite or contrived.

At the same time, perfume exists in a space that cannot quite be considered fine art. It exists in a way similar to how craft beer or gastro-food exists: Yes, there is a great deal of skill and artistry involved, but there is a certain element lacking – whether that be aesthetic, spiritual or intellectual – that removes perfume from a fine art context. Perhaps it’s because perfume largely exists as a product and, as such, does what it is supposed to do at face value. It largely doesn’t attempt to communicate any concepts that would allow it to be comprehended and engaged with for more than the sum of it’s parts. You may argue that it doesn’t need to. But my suggestion is that it could and, if it could, it may provide a new way of understanding non-visual experiences.

Halted ideas and perfume may well be able to compliment each other and as such, develop our thoughts towards the nature of non-visual ways of relating to the world. Indeed, perfume could provide an ideal metaphor for an idea that can’t reach fruition: Such an idea exists bottled up inside your mind and when considered it surrounds you with thoughts, feelings and recalled experiences that are not fully understood and will again disappear. This echos how a spray of perfume initially bursts onto the scene, full and flavorful yet in a way not fully understood, before disappearing into obscurity.

Halted ideas and perfume are both two entities that are just shy of being comprehended as a means of fine art. They cannot quite harness abstract thought and as such, cannot quite engage an audience with moral, social, political or experiential potency which I believe is fundamental in the transience from art to fine art.

Perhaps the issue is that perfumes and halted ideas exist in ways which have to be knowingly imagined – they can’t be directly comprehended as there is a degree of intangibility. Combining both within some kind of art practice will probably not suddenly allow them to be tangible but will instead suggest that they can be directly comprehended despite intangibility. They will become enhanced, loaded with each others’ connotations, and as such our understanding of both the nature of perfume and the nature of creative processes will be furthered.

I would suggest that utilising both within creative practice provides perfume with a means to transcend it’s face value and allows unfulfilled ideas to finally exist in a space where they can be engaged with. Thus providing an audience with a new way to regard both entities and a new way for both entities to exist relative to each other. It may also allow the artist to reflect on the very nature of ideas, how they can be formed and what shape they could take – even a shape that they might not recognise or identify with.

So, why the hell am I tell you all this? Well, because such thoughts will form a basis for my year-long research-led residency at Bank Street Arts. The residency initially emerged as a way to further my paint-making exploits, but has since evolved into something which sees me finally make a meaningful transition away from paint and into the nature of utilising scent within artistic practice – something I have been skirting around for years but now have a strong platform from which to develop.


My residency began as a way to continue my paint-based exploits but has since evolved into the idea of perfumery.

I seek to investigate how creative processes can be applied to the nature of perfumery in a way that is beneficial and meaningful. I would like to answer questions both of how halted ideas can become realised and how the nature of perfumery can be applied to fine art in a coherent way. Along the way I might well come along questions concerning reliance on vision, how the concept of the 5 senses is outdated and how ideas can be re-contextualised as products. For now, though, I am looking for artists to provide me with ideas that have halted somewhere within the creative process which I will create a perfume from. Please email if you do have any ideas. Many thanks 🙂

Artists’ Paint Colour #4 – Cups Stacked on Top of Each Other

Taking ideas from artists and turning them into paint. Each paint is already primed with implications and preconceptions based on the artists’ ideas: This allows you to choose between using the paint as a raw medium, or exploiting the connotations found within the paint. The choice is yours.  

Colour #4 – Cups Stacked on Top of Each Other

With unique texture and a bold, unashamed hue, ‘Cups Stacked On Top Of Each Other’ can always be relied upon. Whether depicting social interactions or moments of quiet reflection, this brutally rich paint seeks to make a statement.   

ARTISTS – If you have an idea for a painting that, for one reason or another, never reached fruition, email and I will allow your idea to be realised through the process of paint making.

Artists’ Paint Colour #3 – Overheard Conversations

Taking ideas from artists and turning them into paint. Each paint is already primed with implications and preconceptions based on the artists’ ideas: This allows you to choose between using the paint as a raw medium, or exploiting the connotations found within the paint. The choice is yours.  

Colour #3 – Overheard Conversations in Public Spaces

Specialist paint with a joyously inconsistent texture and a playful sense of Alchemy, ‘Overheard Conversations in Public Spaces’ celebrates innovation by considering accident and chance within the context of paint. Useful for those times where you deliberately seek to relinquish control of a painting.

Idea handed to me by artist Sally Sheinman

ARTISTS – If you have an idea for a painting that, for one reason or another, never reached fruition, email and I will allow your idea to be realised through the process of paint making.