My current Perfume as Practice solo exhibition is open at Asylum Gallery, Wolverhampton, until 29th June. As you may know, I theme my Perfume as Practice exhibitions around specific themes. Doing so allows me to respond to spaces and place perfumery in different contexts, reveling the capacity scent has to accommodate contemporary art concepts. It also allows me to play with a fragrance industry convention of unveiling a themed or seasonal collection.
The theme for my Wolverhampton show is ‘Protest’, which has been a tricky subject to frame Perfume as Practice around. Initial thoughts revolved around historical uses of scent to as a means of controlling groups of people. However, this would place scent in a somewhat negative light, and if Perfume as Practice is about one thing, it’s about highlighting how perfume can unify and bolster creative communities when considered as an artform. With this in mind – and considering how protests bring people together in an act of unity – I decided to take the opportunity of utilising ‘protest’ to place perfumery in a positive light; revealing it’s capacity for community spirit, peace, empowerment and agency.
I’ve also used the exhibition as an opportunity to re-brand my image a little. You see, Perfume as Practice has always attempted to demystify the perfume making process; allowing it to be regarded not merely as a luxury commodity, but as a tool of expression that can give others a voice. Perfume is power, and I want to shout about it; as a Perfumer of the People.
Head – Cotton, Cut Grass
Heart – Geranium, Dandelion
Body – Ylang Ylang, Patchouli
Description – A description of a calming, expansive landscape, this balanced fragrance elicits the capacity scent has for communication while connecting you to nature.
This perfume will be exhibited alongside 9 other perfume portraits at Lumen Crypt Gallery, London, from 4 – 7th April 2019
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.
A little over a week ago ‘Shelf Life’ – my solo exhibition at Gage Gallery, Sheffield – came to an end. I have had a fair few group shows prior to this, but I would say that ‘Shelf Life’ was my first true solo exhibition. As such, it involved a great deal of organising, developing and promoting. There was a sense of relief when everything was sorted and I could just relax and allow others to engage with my work.
Whilst I can be relatively pleased with the effort I went to in order to promote the exhibition, I don’t feel as though the amount of work I did promoting correlates to the overall attendance. Perhaps this is something a lot of artists feel. On reflection though, I suppose that an emerging artist exhibiting in an emerging gallery in the winter is never going to draw hordes of visitors. Plus I believe it pays to never underestimate the unreliably of people. Anyway, let’s not descend into bitterness and instead focus on the positives.
As a personal exercise, what I wanted to achieve from ‘Shelf Life’ was an informed understanding of what elements of my practice are coherent enough to be developed. And that’s exactly what I got. The basic act of getting work up on the walls and looking to see what works and what doesn’t clarifies your approach and allows you to gather the knowledge required in order to progress. There is a certain therapy in ascertaining strong works from weak ones, and developing a greater affinity with your finished works. Perhaps this is especially true of conceptual artists, where it is the idea that takes precedence and as such, allows the actual work to be overlooked. I believe there is a balance to be found between concept and aesthetics and I believe that exhibiting allows this balance to be realised.
So, was the exhibition successful? Well, yes: It was well received by those who did visit and the process allowed me to develop my practice further. As a first solo exhibition, it helped me refine my body of work and, in turn, has potentially enabled me to hold more disciplined and coherent exhibitions in the future. Yes, it would have been nice to have sold more work, and it would have been nice if it was a little better attended, but it was not expected. I am happy with ‘Shelf Life’s’ achievements and it provides a solid marker I can use relative to future exhibitions. Not a bad start.