May has been a rather busy and productive month, as no doubt evidenced by my distinct lack of blogging. In between making perfumes for exhibitions, running workshops and playing with audio/visual equipment I’ve seldom had the time to sit, think and reflect. But guess what? Now is that time. So let’s have it.
The beginning of May saw me stage a group exhibition with arts collective Oracles, who focus of themes of loss, history and religion. The exhibition was staged at Halifax Minster, and was entitled ‘And …Forgive Us Our Trespasses’. It looked at the Seven Deadly Sins, with each artist choosing a sin each to respond to. Given the somewhat alluring connotations associated with perfume, the sin I chose was lust. My work, entitled ‘Seven Keys’ sought to tread the line between love and lust:
My work adhered to a simple premise; 7 perfumes are presented, six depicting lust and one depicting lust. The perfumes depicting lust contained synthetic ingredients, referencing the superficial, material workings of lust on the brain. The perfume depicting love housed only natural ingredients, referencing the inherent ‘realness’ of love, which can be subtle, quiet, but no less potent.
I believe this simple premise worked, allowing the audience to comprehend the artistic capabilities of scent design and it’s ability to house concepts and narratives, such as the Seven Deadly Sins. Conversations with the audience revolved around how I’d been able to harness the craft of perfumery for contemporary art ends, and how their expectations were somewhat confounded. This is always my aim, and to hear it relayed back to you is very gratifying.
Creative endeavours throughout the rest of May have centred on something not altogether connected with perfume. Rather, it has seen me create a short, somewhat irreverent film revealing the creative concerns of artists working in Sheffield. The film is imaginatively titled ‘Michael Borkowsky’s Art Thing’ though perhaps a more pertinent title would be ‘I Don’t Really Know What I’m Doing’. After all, this is the first time I have entered the realm of filmmaking and, if there’s one thing I’ve learnt, it’s that editing is the hardest thing in the world.
Still, creating such a piece of work has provided the opportunity to learn new skills and meet new people, such as Sean Maddison-Brown, who helped me present a segment of the film:
(Photo Credit – Vanitas Arts)
I’m looking forward to the end result, and to making new films in the future. I will certainly streamline the process though. Can’t have my perfume based larks playing second-fiddle; Especially when an upcoming solo exhibition in Wolverhampton at Asylum Gallery looms.
Last weekend I was part of a group exhibition at the Old Holy Trinity Church, Wentworth called ‘Measure’ – which looks at the human soul. My own offering was a scented narrative that suggests you can weigh your soul against the virtues of your job.
This is the second outing of this particular body of work, with the first being at Sheffield Cathedral last year. I found that the informal yet contemplative space of Old Trinity Church lent itself more to audience engagement. this was evidenced by how many people took the time to look and contemplate what was in front of them. As such, conversations emerged about life, purpose, vocation, perceptions of self, perceptions of each other and indeed mortality.
It wasn’t all about Life’s Big Questions though, as the design and implementation of my work also revealed to an audience the capacity perfumery has for narrative. In this instance, the perfume I have created forms part of an installation that incorporates painting, 3D work and text. This allows my audience to directly comprehend perfumery against other more established art forms. It certainly holds it’s own and enhances the overall experience.
My next stop is Leeds for Horsforth Walk of Art, where I’ll be trialling a new idea based on perfume and emojis. Looking forward to it!
Perfume as Practice SS18 – my 5th solo show about perfume and it’s capacity for portraiture, is now open at Bureau Centre for the Arts, Blackburn.
The exhibition houses 15 perfume portraits, which will each be documented on this website in the coming weeks. It also houses visual material and other scented experiences that enhance and contextualise the perfumes on display. In the spirit of devising themed collections, Perfume as Practice draws upon saints in order to categorise, establish and assess the reasons why artists make art.
If you want to find out more, why not pop along! It will be open Tuesdays-Saturdays 10am-4pm from now until 26th April.
Lost within the expanse of the sea; maddened flesh now carrion and hands clenched to the last of my sanity. Yet a light emerges and, consumed with hope, I travel towards it.
What I find is not light, but fire and smoke pouring from the doors of Leviathan’s mouth. A creature formidable in both strength and grace. Nothing on earth could be it’s equal; without fear, without weakness.
Yet it spoke to me with gentle words and in its glistening wake the sea became a pot of ointment.
Leviathan constitutes 1 artefact of 6 that I will display in a group exhibition at Platforms Project 2017 in Athens from 20th – 25th May 2017 alongside other members of Soup Collective International (SCI)
Exchange Place Studios – the space where I share a studio with Sharon Mossbeck – is hosting an exhibition from 29th April – 10th in parallel with Open Up Sheffield. The exhibition brings together Exchange Place artists of varying styles and disciplines, all working towards one common theme – ‘The Beast Within’
This theme opens up various means of interpretation. As such, I intend to use it as a chance to show brand new work and to use a new creative medium – the humble scented candle. I intend to use scented candles in a contemporary way – using scent to describe a narrative that speculates upon the idea that knowledge is a beast which we feed to further human endeavour.
The narrative, which takes cues from Ancient Eygpt and religious ritual, suggests that if you offer the essences of your body and mind to the beast of Knowledge they will be sacrificed for the good of human endeavour. However, the narrative also advises caution against feeding knowledge, as a collective sense of truth may compromise your own place within the world.
The narrative provides insight and metaphor for how we navigate our way through our own reality, learn from our experiences and how we sit on the axis between the realities of the wider world and our own personal battles. If you want to see – and indeed smell – the creation, why not pop down to Exchange Place Studios? There will be a Private View of the exhibition between 7-9pm on the 29th April. Do come along if you can!
Behold, my first attempt at a scented candle!
Not bad eh?
But why?! I hear you ask. Well, as well as it being a notable use for fragrance oils – which I have in abundance due to my perfumery pursuits – I am seeking to initiate and develop a new strand of work, which will re-purpose church spaces in an attempt to re-align art to religion.
My work tends to offer many layers of engagement whist also seeming relativity subtle- a studio space that isn’t actually a studio space; a perfume shop that isn’t actually a perfume shop; and now a shrine that isn’t actually a shrine. These shrines will speculate upon an existence for artists that draws parallels to a religion. The aim is to explore, speculate and create alternative functions for both creative and religious practice in order to attain a furthered and relevant understanding of them both within the present. Are art galleries the Cathedrals of the present day? Or can the very working of religion inform how art and artists function within society? Or both? Or neither?! And what would all of this look like?!?! Lets find out…