Looking back on my creative output over the last year, I’d have to conclude that I have had a relatively successful 2018 – I have delivered on my promise of staging two Perfume as Practice shows a year, immersed myself in the possibilities of candle making in contemporary art, and have reached new audiences both nationally and internationally. So I guess I can’t complain!
This year, I endeavoured to stage both Perfume as Practice shows outside Sheffield. This was an effort to extend my audience reach and introduce new sets of people to the artistic possibilities of perfumery. To that end, I have been successful, as my shows were staged at BasementArtsProject, Leeds, and Bureau Centre for the Arts, Blackburn. (In fact, you can still see my work at BasementArtsProject until the end of January!)
I wanted to see a tangible development in Perfume as Practice – both in terms of the quality of the perfumes made and audience expectation. This was achieved by placing Perfume as Practice in contexts and spaces previously untapped: My exhibition in Blackburn placed perfumery within the context of religion while my exhibition in Leeds was a joint show, placing Perfume as Practice alongside the work of artist Emilia Telese.
One of the failures of my 2017 was that I involved myself in too many group exhibitions, thus compromising the quality of my output. This has been rectified this year as I have carefully selected opportunities relevant to the development of my practice.
I also embarked on a new project; Scents of Our Time. This took the guise of a residency at Access Space and a solo show at Mugen Tea House. In hindsight, the process of using candle making to describe news stories is very immersive, and probably works best as a residency. I think the jury is still out on how an audience responds to it, but there is certainly a lot of potential in the idea and I will seek new opportunities to develop the idea in the new year.
I’d like to say a big thank you to everyone involved in making my 2018 such a success and, actually, a very enjoyable year. I think I feel completely at ease with Perfume as Practice as an idea, and now just seek to hone it, push it in new directions and reach new audiences.
2019 promises to be rather exciting – it will see me stage my first solo show in London, embark on new Perfume as Practice shows in Wolverhampton and Bristol, and continue to stage events and workshops that provide an insight into my unique approach to perfume making and ways of utilising scent in art. Looking forward to it!
In the midst of preparing, installing and maintaining Speculative Studio Spaces I have also been able to do something I rarely do – Go out and actually look at a bit of art.
It’s a rarity for a couple of reasons. For one, the idea of actually going out and seeing work is often jostling for position on a never ending to-do list, and alas, is usually something I can omit. Not least because I don’t tend to draw inspiration from an exhibition. Rather, it tends to emerge from philosophy, psychology, poetry, video games, or is informed by research into industries my practice covers, such as food and fragrance.
Not that I’m making excuses. Visiting exhibitions is very valuable for the artist, as it reinforces thought processes, allows you to assess the accessibility of your own practice and allows you to gain an understanding of your place within the art world relative to others. Not to mention the social benefits. I do wish I went to more stuff and will seek to in the future.
But one thing I have seen over the last two weeks, is an exhibition spanning various spaces in Sheffield, named Going Public.
Going Public seeks to raise awareness of art collections and make them more accessible, as well as provide insight into how and why collections are founded and maintained. 4 collections are represented over 5 venues. and so far I have seen all venues bar one.
The Sandretto Re Rebaudengo Collection found at Sheffield Cathedral impressed, and got me thinking about art in relation to the space it occupies. It got me thinking of producing scent sculptures, which would only really be defined – and totally dependent – on space. In terms of providing me with thought in relation to my on practice, Sheffield Cathedral’s exhibits delivered.
The DSL collection – that includes major pieces by contemporary Chinese artists – found at SIA Gallery and Site gallery also intrigued. Though I feel perhaps a little too far removed from their original context. The exhibition at SIA in particular feels a little isolating and impenetrable. Though again there is a level of accessibility that should be applauded.
Hovever, it’s the The Cattelain Collection at Millenuim Gallery that stands out the most. I loved it, actually! From a considered treatment of light to a grand textile piece, each work displays an affinity between artist and material; something to consider for me when investigating and experimenting with perfumery. Curated with a quiet harmony and with a playful level of interaction, I’d heartily recommend this to anyone.
In fact, I’d recommend the whole of Going Public. While some collections sit more pertinently in their spaces then others, each collection offers something different, while retaining the principles of collections and public accessibility.
Going Public is on around Sheffield until 12th December.