For the first 3 weeks of July I undertook a residency at Access Space, Sheffield entitled ‘Scents of Our Time’ which saw me utilise candle making to respond to the news events of the day.
The residency seeks to gauge whether an audience can engage with the concept of utilising candle making as a means of social and political commentary; subverting preconceptions of what candle making can be and placing it on a contemporary art platform.
I didn’t really know what to expect, both in terms of my approach to responding to the news through scent design or with regard to audience engagement, but I did feel rather buoyed by the opportunity, as it was the first public outing of Scents of Our Time.
Weeks 1 and 2 focused primarily on the production of candles as well as the production of visual material:
Designed in a manner that apes news graphics, this painting continues a precedent set with my Perfume as Practice body of work. Namely, under current projects the paintings that I complete act simply as visual description of proceedings.
I found that the candle making process – slow, considered and cathartic – provides an alternative method of digesting the news, which often arrives rapidly and successively, affording no time to meaningful contemplation. This is something I will take into my third week.
The 3rd and final week saw a shift of focus from working to exhibiting, as candle production was reduced in favour of curation ready for a closing event. The resultant exhibition saw the presentation of 18 candles, each a separate response to the news, along with visual embellishments and, in an attempt at transparency in my processes, information regarding how each candle was made.
The aim of Scents of Our Time at Access Space was to reveal the capacity candle making has for social comment, agency and creative action while providing transparency into the creative process, allowing for insight and knowledge exchange. I believe that these aims were mostly achieved, but in unexpected ways.
For one, I didn’t account for the visual intricacies of each candle to be contemplated by an audience. Perfume as Practice – my other project that utilises scent – tends to rely on supporting visual material to create a cohesive set of work as otherwise it’s proven hard for an audience to engage with it beyond face value. Scents of Our Time didn’t actually need any other supporting material as each candle contained enough visual information to be regarded within context: If I am, for example, responding to the (relative) triumph of the England National Football Team, a candle adorned with grass-green and white wax already provides an audience with a visual representation. This use of colour is absent from perfume as Practice and as such, perhaps I had gotten overly used to designing extra visual ques even when I don’t need them.
Unfortunately, a combination of The World Cup and the hot weather (both of which were responded to in my candles) meant audience attendance was down on what might have been expected. However, what audience there was appeared fully engaged with the project, citing it’s innovation and subversive approach to candle making. This is a fantastic starting point and I think the project lends itself to being a residency, as it forces me to respond with urgency and energy to the news of the day. And it will be fun seeing where this leads.
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:
I hope you can join me!
As you may know, our crowdfunding campaign – which is raising funds for an artist led Valentine’s Day themed exhibition in Sheffield – is up and running and gaining momentum. The great thing about crowdfunding is that it initiates and strengthens community spirit: Giving anyone from any background the chance to become an intrinsic part of exiting artist led projects and the opportunity to directly support the arts locally and nationally. Our crowdfunding campaign is no different, and in return for your generous donation you will be cordially invited to our opening evening, credited in our exhibition and you can take advantage of some wonderful rewards handmade by the artists exhibiting – just in time for Valentine’s Day!
Indeed, whether you love Valentine’s Day or hate it, I’m sure you’ll agree that the diversity and quality of the rewards on offer is fantastic – and certainly bodes well for the exhibition! Here’s what our artists are offering as rewards:
Sharon Mossbeck – Love – £5 – Buy from here
Ever the contemporary art cross-stitcher, Sharon Mossbeck has created 10 of these simple yet elegant original postcard-sized cross stitch pieces. A perfect Valentine’s Day card alternative. Get ’em while you can!
Sharon Mossbeck – Love Token – £10 – Buy from here
For £10 you can take home this fabulous original piece of art. Gold leaf and acrylic on wood, this stylised, 4cm x 4cm depiction of an anatomical heart is the perfect alternative Valentine’s card. A wonderful chance to buy original art while backing our exhibition.
Sharon Mossbeck- Cross Stitch Kit – £10 – Buy from here
Sharon Mossbeck’s cross stitch kit provides you with everything you need to make a fair isle heart of your own. This unique reward designed entirely by Sharon herself makes an ideal Valentine’s Day gift. It can be yours for £10.
Gill Alderson – Portrait – £20 – Buy from here
Gill Alderson’s ‘Portrait’ is gold leaf and pencil on an egg shell. It is beautiful to behold and a truly unique and unusual piece of original artwork in it’s own right. This can be yours for £20, and you’ll also be cordially invited to any event we organise.
Michael Borkowsky- Love Potion – £25 (UK Only) – Buy from here
Referencing the historical links between perfume and medicine, fine art perfumer Michael Borkowsky has created a bespoke fragrance designed to attract the opposite sex while offering mental wellbeing! A blend of white musk, jasmine, vanilla, rosemary and a hint of apple in a sweet almond oil, this perfume captures the essence of sensuality and keeps your mind in good health! (UK Only)
Gill Alderson – Pendant – £35 – Buy from here
Artist Gill Alderson is offering this beautiful and intricate hand drawn pendant cast in real gold. Truly original and captivating, this can be yours for £35. A fantastic way of acquiring original work while backing the exhibition!
Sharon Hall Shipp – Constellation I – £45 – Buy from here
Constellation I is a wonderful and highly detailed original collage by artist Sharon Hall Shipp. 18x13cm mounted on thick paper, this is a captivating piece that cites dance steps, cartography, constellations and love as sources of inspiration. This is a fantastic chance to receive original art and support artists while backing our exhibition!
Lizzie Biscuits – Minimal – £100 – Buy from here
Minimal is a miniature costume wearing animal, and a much loved product of Lizzie Biscuits’ practice. Choose any animal you wish and allow Lizzie to dress them in a handmade outfit. A frog in a frock coat? A cat in a hat? A dog in a dress? Email your choice to firstname.lastname@example.org
…We hope you love some of the rewards our artists have made! If you’d like more information about our crowdfunding campaign, or would like to donate, share or get involved in some way, then click the image below
Over recent weeks I have been concious – as I’m sure we all have – over the idea that the UK could initiate air strikes against Isis in Syria. Last night it was announced that the Government’s plan to initiate air-strikes was to go ahead and was put into action this morning.
Waking up to news you have fundamental problems with, yet is linked to your own country, feels difficult and fuels anxiety and uncertainty; though of course this pales in comparison to the thoughts of Syrian civilians.
UK Parliament held a yes/no vote on whether the bombing should be initiated. This already posed a problem as surely this conflict demands far more consideration than a ‘yes’ or a ‘no’. Indeed, there are those who take my personal stance that military action by the UK in Syria against Isis could be effective, provided that it is a supporting role on the ground working with Syria to carefully and meticulously eradicate the threat of terror from the country and beyond. However, the idea of air-strikes feels – at best – heavy handed and at worst could lead to the unnecessary killing of civilians, further fuelling terrorist propaganda.
It’s been difficult to disengage with these world events and inevitably it has led me to consider the position of my practice. It’s easy to feel dismissive within this context, but then art provides an alternative, has to capacity to instigate social and moral change with passion and positivity, and can unite isolated or marginalised sets of people. Not to mention the solace, hope and escapism it provides.
I believe it is important to re-acquaint yourself with the value of creative practice and creative thinking from time to time. Even within my practice, there are contextual subtleties of anti-consumerism and pro-identity which provide a voice, a means of reflection and a means of communication. My work also seeks to find alternative ways of considering pre-defined concepts. This, if functioning as a metaphor, is able to transcend perfumery and adopt moral, social and even political standpoints.
Art is more about who you are than what you do. It is my outlet and means of communicating. There would be a sense of loss and emptiness without it as it provides a platform for thought, discussion, communication and, above all, inclusion. I will forever promote creation over destruction and as such, in my own way, will continue to attempt to contribute and connect with all areas of the community.