Perfume as Practice makes an appearance in Sheffield this weekend in the guise of a stall at Wadsley Festival. As such, I have spent the last few weeks preparing a variety of new works – both scented and unscented!
My aim at the festival is to provide an audience with an alternative way of looking at perfume, the craft of perfumery and how scent can be a viable and potent form of communication. I will be showcasing a variety of perfume portraits, demonstrating the perfume making process and presenting visual ways of depicting the virtues of perfumery and it’s capacity for identity, narrative and metaphor.
I’m well into my second year of Perfume as Practice yet what continues to strike me is it’s versatility and the many levels of engagement it provides. Within one month my perfume-based endeavours have depicted Bone Cancer stories, have provided a conceptually-charged representation of knowledge, have used fragrance to describe identity with reference to travel and finally have returned to the notion of portraiture. And yet I feel I’ve barely scratched the surface of possibilities. So, onwards and upwards!
Here’s images of my two works for Athens, all complete and ready to be sent! Both works describe how perfume can be used as a tool to forge identities, and how travel can allow you to adapt and reconstruct personas in line with your experiences.
In May I’ll be involved in no less than 4 exhibitions and events. A busy time indeed, but one I am very much looking forward to getting stuck into!
May also marks the return of one strand of my creative endeavours – Speculative Studio Spaces – which sees me construct a fabricated studio space based on the exhibition piece of another artist. When a highly personal space such as an artists studio is opened to investigation and interpretation, what does that say about the artist, the outward perception of the artist and how we regard creative processes?
I will be staging a Speculative Studio Space as part of a group exhibition in Huddersfield Media Centre. The studio I will be fabricating is that of the artist Jim Geddes (1932-2009) who I’m told was a rather prolific artist in his time. The process of creating this space is a slight departure from previous Speculative Studio Spaces, as this time I haven’t personally chosen the artist. It will be interesting to see how relinquishing control of part of the process effects the overall space.
Lee Green 50ml EDT
Clean, crisp with a neutral sensitivity that allows the user to attach their own sense of self – whoever they are. This fragrance is an agent for identity and reminds you of your own innate beauty.
Existing between the masculine and the feminine by virtue of allowing the herbal sentiments of thyme, pepper and clove to meet the musky exotic tones of patchouli and the woody yet crisp tones of cypress. A pinch of orange adds a slight kick, indicating a outward personality.
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 here
Late March – the 25th to be exact – provided me with my first opportunity to place ‘Perfume as Practice’ within a public realm. This was more beneficial than I had initially anticipated: As I still felt as though I am navigating my way through perfumery in order to hit on something relevant to fine art practice, I expected my project to not quite be ready for public contemplation. In fact the opposite was true – being able to talk to people about my project actually enabled a clearer direction to emerge.
It is decided that my perfume will act as portraiture. A portraiture of artists, in fact. You see, I am interested in the parallels that exist between artists using their art as a mask – a version of their truth that they are willing to transmit into the public domain – and how perfume can be used as a mask. However, instead of embracing these parallels I wish to disrupt them. I will use perfume as a means of unmasking the artist, creating a raw and sincere portrait that removes any embellishment an artist places upon themselves. The aim is to at once re-imagine and question the possibilities of scent and perfumery – allowing them the capacity for portraiture in a way what defies their original functionality – whilst simultaneously reflecting on how artists construct their identity, and how forms of portraiture can eek out true identity.
So how will I go about doing this? Why, by asking artists a simple question – ‘What defines you as an artist?’ The answers I receive from this question will contain clues which I will decipher, then render – in a somewhat alchemic manner – into a portrait made from perfume: A direct assessment of the artists’ identity contained within a bottle of essential oils and aroma compounds. These perfumes will then go on to be displayed within an exhibition at Bank Street Arts in February next year. If you are an artist and you wish to be involved, simply answer the question ‘What defines you as an artist?’ and send it to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Many thanks 🙂
Acting as an appendage to Speculative Studio Spaces, I present to you some perfectly crafted chocolates.
These are no ordinary chocolates – each is attached to a particular process that artists undertake in their creative practice. These chocolates, then, allow the audience to relinquish control of artists’ processes and as such, a facet of their identity, their sense of authorship and their sense of ownership. The audience may now regard creative processes as subjective, open to the type of analysis, consideration and reflection usually reserved for …well, chocolates.
A visit to three separate arts organisations over two days last week has reinforced my Speculative Studio Spaces body of work. Enthused with it’s positive reception, I now need to spend time thinking about the exact shape the different outputs of Speculative Studio Spaces can take, as well as any other events or talks I could host.
One thing that I like about Speculative Studio Spaces on a personal level is that, quite apart from the ridged, tight, research-lead residency at Bank Street Arts, Speculative Studio Spaces is malleable; I can play loose-and-fast with it as it’s a wide-ranging brief. But it is a theme that is affecting of all artists as all artists have some kind of connection with a studio space: They may be embracing or dismissive of it; it may provide solace and moments of personal reflection; it might be a space where ideas can be placed and left to crystallise; or it might even be a place of intense frustration. This is great because it means I can present Speculative Studio Spaces in several different ways, and ways which may compliment the spaces in which I present them.
What struck me through the conversations I had last week, at Neo:Artists, Bolton, at Basement Arts and at East Street Arts, Leeds, is that the studio space is able to be arrived at from the view of critical assessment – analysing the very processes that occur whilst the artist is at work whilst also exploiting the personal nature of the studio space. My work could provide a visual critique that deals, not with an exhibition piece, but the very practice of working.
A studio space that speculates what would happen if an artist who investigates our relationship with materials instead arrived at his work by investigating the concept of chance.
An assembled studio space, then, can assume the position of critical review – assessing how the artist works as if their actions bear more value than their finished articles. Indeed, the identity of an artist is highlighted far more potently in a working environment than an exhibition space, due to the fact that it functions based on personal preference. An exhibition needs to be crafted to ensure your audience is able to perceive your identity in a desired way. A studio speaks of your identity through every choice you make within that space. It is when that choice is relinquished – when a studio space starts to behave more like an exhibition space – that the artist can reflect on their practice whilst an audience can reflect upon the concepts of identity, ownership and authorship.
Though if I wish I can be more abstract than all that. I could, for example, take an artist who I know to be a performance artist, then reassemble a space around a performance piece of theirs that would speculate what their work space would look like if they were, say, a visual artist. If an audience witnesses an artist that associates themselves with one discipline being completely relinquished of that discipline, then what effect would that have on the artists’ identity? Would they examine the importance of the choices they make within a workspace? Would they be left feeling vulnerable, dis-armored? Or would it reinforce their creative directions? And would an audience see this deconstruction of an artist and re-assembly towards something abstract as exploitative to an artist, or as a means of visual analysis?
I suppose this post has simply allowed me to place a few of my thoughts. As I mentioned, Speculative Studio Spaces is able to accommodate many avenues of inquiry, so getting a few thoughts down helps me refine and understand those avenues. Overall, I would hope Speculative Studio Spaces would assume the role of a visual assessment of how artists work and how their work has a direct bearing on their perceived identity. And through deconstruction and re-assembly, I would hope that Speculative Studio Spaces would assess the nature of how we work in relation to who we are.
I’d like to thank Neo:Artists, BasementArts and East Street Arts for the opportunity to work with them and to explore different avenues of Speculative Studio Spaces. Looking forward to working with all of you!
Studio spaces. What are they? Are they a form of refuge? a highly personal space that demands the removal of inhabitation? A platform where artists can come, meet and feel resolve from mutually beneficial conversation? A space to develop informed and meaningful creative practice? Or simply a space where you can exist in isolation from the worlds troubles to do whatever the hell you want?
Whatever they are, their existence within creative practice helps the artist arrive at visual conclusions via a plethora of choices comprised of thoughts, ideas, images, materials, surfaces and tools. The decisions artists make within a studio develops engagement with their practice and allows the artist to construct their artistic identity. The studio also allows the artist to develop an affinity with materials, which in turn reinforce how we wish to be perceived: If an artist uses steel, for example, then they begin to be regarded as such, and that material is able to be attached to the artists’ perceived identity.
Yet the true nature of studio spaces is rarely portrayed to an audience, despite the fact that a studio space is able to provide true insight into identity in relation to creative processes. True, us artists often allow an audience to grace our studio spaces via ‘Open Studio’ events. But these are largely fabricated; any mess is cleaned up, materials and tools hare hidden, and any creative activity is removed in favour of displaying finished works. They function as pseudo-exhibitions, enabling the audience to witness how an artist wishes to be perceived, but providing no insight into the studios’ day-to-day role.
There’s something about the true nature of studio spaces that can be exploited and taken in new, engaging and potentially innovative directions. From 2015 I hope to take an informed and balanced gaze upon the nature of studio spaces, the artists relationship with studio spaces and how that relationship develops, enhances and cements identity.
Currently, I hypothesise that the notion of relinquishing any choice from the artist and constructing a speculative studio space is able to at once investigate how creative processes develop whilst simultaneously disarming the artist of their identity. Indeed, I have trialled the notion of speculative studios during Yorkshire Artspaces ‘Open Studios’ last month. I took the end products from two separate artists and constructed a studio space that speculated how the artist may have arrived at such a conclusion:
Relinquishing the artist of the choices they make intends to expose how creative process relate to the construction of identity and intends investigate the problematic implications of authorship and ownership in relation to how an audience may perceive an artist when an artist has no input in the matter.
I would initially suggest that re-contextualising the choices artists make within a studio as end products – which is essentially what my ‘speculative studio spaces’ are – may reveal a studio space that reads like a portrait: An alternative identity that reveals a chance to assess and reflect upon creativity from a difference space, as well as provide a commentary for how creative processes can be manipulated for the sake of exposing identity.
As part of Yorkshire Artspace’s Open Studios I am running a two-day exhibition at Exchange Place Studios. The exhibition will act as a trial of some of my current ideas around the themes of identity and creative processes. It will run Friday 21st November from 5:30 – 9pm and Saturday 22nd November from 11am – 5pm. I will be on the 4th Floor of Exchange Place Studios.
Included in the exhibition will be a re-imagination of two artists’ studios, based on their perceived creative output. I speculate upon their processes, their materials and even their own personalities in order to devise an alternative yet informed identity. I will also be displaying three purposely-constructed mechanisms that attempt to disrupt my own creative processes and highlight and assess how value can be placed upon everyday objects.
A sneak peek of one of my ‘speculative studio spaces’ – on display at Exchange Place Studios this coming Friday & Saturday
I would like to invite you all to the exhibition, which will use an empty studio space near my own studio, I will also be present during both days, so you’d get the opportunity to meet me, ask questions or just chat.
In fact, the whole weekend gives you a great opportunity to meet loads of the artists, makers and designers that work in Yorkshire Artspace. Full details can be found here:
Thank you. See you all on Friday or Saturday hopefully!