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Posts tagged “photography

Perfume Portrait #120 – Marisa Culatto

Marisa Culatto 50ml EDT

Head – Rosemary, Peppermint

Heart – Marjoram

Body – Mulled wine, Frankincense

Description – An ode to Hungary Water; the first known European perfume making process which still informs our understanding of the workings of scent.


Culatto’s Honest Landscape 2 was taken on a road from within the car. Thus it depicts a journey. It does so literally, but also conceptually as part of a series of photographs put through an established process that sees original images reworked, printed with a faulty home printer (which distorts colours), manually crumpled, and re-photographed again. This highlights how process driven work places the artist on a personal journey as well as the literal journey portrayed in the subject matter.


Culatto’s work and corresponding perfume portrait were exhibited at Centrespace Gallery, Bristol, in October 2019.

Four Wheels

Another month, another great opportunity to extend my Perfume as Practice body of work beyond portraiture.

Notes of the Bard combines fragrance, poetry, colour and photography in order to highlight how each of those disciplines can act as a foundation for creative processes. It also attempts to elevate perfumery as a viable medium for communication, as when placed within the context of other creative disciplines a capacity for interpretation, investigation and inspiration is revealed: When removed from its preconceived context, perfumery can readily be regarded as a tool for creative action.

The idea of placing 4 disciplines together emerged through the idea of the colour wheel; I have one pinned up in my studio, alongside a light wheel and a fragrance wheel, and after a little research I also came across a poetry wheel. The fact that each discipline could be quantified and measured based on a set of rules intrigued me, as it revels the similarities between the application and treatment of each discipline – including perfumery.

Innocuous beginnings, maybe. But of course the ramifications for providing alternative modes of thinking about fragrance extends beyond the face value of a box with some stuff inside; it instigates change, provides agency and can empower sets of communities in a manner that forges new connections. In this instance it smells pretty nice too.


Notes of the Bard will be displayed as part of a group exhibition entitled TalkEx17, at St. Ann’s Building, Rotherham, from 3rd – 7th April.

Scented Narratives – Lady of Situations

I have a piece of work in the excellent Lady of Situations at Bank Street Arts. My piece is a scented narrative that describes the forest that Philomela – half woman half bird – is exiled in, and how the forest acts as a metaphor for her own journey. The candle is loaded with the heavy, oppressive fragrance of birch tar, dill weed and carrot seed, yet this gives way to a lighter, positive and joyful fragrance of rose, pine and orange revealed in the vessel. Many thanks to Shirley Harris, and Seni Seneviratne for giving me this opportunity to explore constructing narratives with scent.

You can find out more about Lady of Situations at Bank Street Arts – which runs until 12th November – here.

The Problem With Photography

Yesterday I endured the acquaintance of an extremely heavy, cumbersome and joyless piece of apparatus commonly known as a ‘camera.’ As some of you know, I have been asked to produce over twenty images of jars of home-made paint for a forthcoming exhibition at Forum Cafe, Sheffield. Whilst I am delighted at this prospect, it has also enabled me to ponder the virtue of photography as a means to communicate.

Paint Jars: Part of an exhibition to be displayed at Forum Cafe, Sheffield, from August 12th

Paint Jars: Part of an exhibition to be displayed at Forum Cafe, Sheffield, from August 12th

I have been using photography as a means to document for years now. The pictures I take are never deemed the actual work. They are used to share and promote my work with an audience, and to exchange ideas and correspond with other artists. They are also useful personally, to compare and analyse your own work in context. I have never, however, used photography solely to portray an idea. Here’s why:

  • As a tool, the camera removes the artist from a subject to such an extent that coherence in communicating an idea is compromised. A camera will bound a concept to its own limitations, and the artist has little hand in emphasising that which they wish to depict.
  • Your inherent perception of the physical world is lost as a compromise must be made between yourself and the viewfinder. The experience of taking pictures feels absent and you can’t immerse yourself in the experience; and if you can’t, how can an audience?
  • Painting is able to capture the essence of life whereas photography conveys nothing other than the face-value of life: A photograph conveys an almost binary sense of reality, whereas painting conveys the complexity of reality.
  • Image manipulation packages such a Photoshop render all imagery unreliable. Truth is lost in favour of achieving a perfect image.
  • The main problem I have with photography is that, often, photographs say more about the camera than the person behind it. Any pleb can take a half-decent picture these days, and I am no exception. Everybody thinks they are a good photographer, but hardly anybody thinks they’re a good painter.

So, that’s the problem I have with photography. Hasn’t stopped me from completing a series of work comprised entirely of photographs though! If artists can’t completely contradict themselves then what can they do?! You can see this work at Forum Cafe, Sheffield, From August 12th until September 23rd. You can find more details here:

The Identity of Painting

Over the last week or so I have been concerned with the identity of painting. Specifically, I have been thinking about how the practice of painting can be deemed irrelevant if the paint itself contains enough conceptual prowess. This post really acts as a steam of initial thoughts towards a more refined idea of how paint and painting can be perceived. Well, there goes…

Painting no longer has to exist on a surface. Indeed, when applied to a surface, paint becomes condemned – Fated to be judged with the attachment of subject matter and blinkered by the boundaries of a canvas. Allowing paint to exist untouched achieves a coherent sense of liberation and purity, which can be applied metaphorically to political and social instances or regarded as just that – pure, untouched and alive with potential. Painting, then, no longer has to exist with an identity, as the raw medium of paint is able to obtain identity without even being applied to a surface.

That is not to say painting is without relevance. Painting is a language able to describe the invisible and allow an audience to engage, to connect and to regard the physical world qualitatively. However, if painting is approached conceptually, than that concept doesn’t have to exist within painting. It can, however, exist within paint. These images detail a concept that exists within paint but not painting. That is, a deliberate lack of identity for the sake of raw possibility.

Moreover, the very practice of painting is now disposable – It is interchangeable with other cultural, social and political endeavours. It exists between meals; is halted when your favourite program is on TV; dismissed in favour or dicking about on the internet; or not even considered due to the sheer breath of cultural activities available.

Still Life With Medium as the Subject

Still Life With Medium as the Subject

I myself am interested in the consumable nature of the paints I make – and how they can exist isolated from contemporary art environments – in shops and supermarkets, ready to be purchased and consumed. Indeed, I have considered popping along to my local corner shop and simply leaving a jar of paint or two on a shelf – a piece of conceptual innovation in amongst the chopped tomatoes and pickled onions. A jar of paint as an object is small, fragile and inconspicuous, but that it represents is loaded with possibility and transcendence.

…There! All done! It’s good to actually begin to solidify these ideas just by writing them down. Some of this stuff  I’ll probably deem untrue or irrelevant over the next few weeks/days/seconds. Still, that’s part of the fun of it all!