Perfume as Practice – my current artist’s residency at Orchard Square, Sheffield – affords me one month housed in what is nominally a retail unit in the heart of Sheffield city centre. Positioned in between Starbucks and Waterstones, my residency aims to confound expectations of another product with highly commercial connotations – perfume. My residency provides other artists with a free consultancy service, and the perfumes will be designed as an intimate and direct response to the thoughts, desires and personalities revealed by the artists willing to participate in the process. The perfumes will then be displayed as portraits that capture the essence of artists living and working in Sheffield’s collective communities.
I want my audience to be directed to alternative ways of considering perfume and what perfume can accommodate within a contemporary art context. But I also want to challenge preconceived notions of how artists occupy public spaces.
But while this is all well and good, I need some kind of audience. So what of it? Well, footfall is a little low but the effectiveness of word-of-mouth is not to be underestimated; around half of my visitors have attended due to hearing about it from their friends. Constant pushing of the project on social media has also attracted attention and as such I have set myself a target of being able to create 30 perfume portraits within the space before the residency ends.
This is a reasonable target and one that will eclipse the ‘most amount of perfume I’ve exhibited at one exhibition’ record set by my first ever Perfume as Practice solo show at Bank Street Arts last year. But it’s a target that I strive towards as it will provide confirmation of a well-attended residency. Whether it’s a well-regarded residency or not will rely on continued efforts by myself to make it the best it can be.
The residency has also presented another somewhat unexpected challenge – that of remaining fully engaged and proactive throughout the duration: As every day of October will involve either working in my residency or working in other employment, I seek to take measures to prevent mental and physical fatigue. I have, for example, changed my diet a little in order to distribute an even amount of energy throughout the day. I’ve also tried (with varying degrees of success) to cut out junk foods. This sort of physical challenge is a somewhat unexpected quirk, but frankly I’m enjoying living a healthier lifestyle and find that it informs my mental aptitude when creating perfumes with immediacy and in situ.
So, onwards and upwards! I still have over two weeks occupying Orchard Square. So please pop in if you can. And if you’re an artist, take advantage of my services and have a perfume portrait made for you. For free!
So, I’ve finally gone and done a bit of teaching. I have finally imparted whatever remnants of wisdom I have onto others, which they can apply to their own artistic endeavours. How did it go? Well, rather bloody well actually. And I am very grateful to Cupola Gallery for their hospitality and for thinking that a paint making workshop was a good idea in the first place.
My workshop seems to be pretty solid ‘straight out of the box,’ with only a few tweaks needed for my next gig at Bank Street Arts. 5 people attended, which was perfect because I was able to conduct the workshop with a sense of informality. It felt more like a few friends with like-minded ambitions that came together to chat about an artistic endeavour, which was lovely, as I was instantly able to feel at ease.
I started by introducing myself and my practice and showed examples of my paint applied to a surface. I then proceeded to conduct a working demonstration of how paint is created before the attendees had a go themselves: A pretty simple yet effective workshop model. However, whilst I knew more or less what to expect, what I hadn’t bargained for was how I would feel afterwards. A palpable sense of accomplishment engrossed me as I knew that those who attended had gone away with something useful, tangible and captivating.
However, my workshop was by no means perfect. Hare a few things that I will tweak for the future:
- I need a few more props and materials. – I didn’t bargain for the volume of work that would be created. Bringing too many materials would be more beneficial than bringing just enough. I ran out of eggs part way through – though that was easily redeemed by nipping to ASDA. I also ran short of canvas board. Which was less redeemable, but I got round it by supplying paper and acetate. I also think that a hand-out, describing and imbedding what I said throughout the workshop, would be valuable for attendees to take home.
- I need to remember that there is value in what I have to say – I felt a little awkward initially adopting the role of a teacher. What I do as an artist is quite idiosyncratic and intuitive: But I think that if what I do can’t be imparted in some way, allowing people to apply it to their own way of thinking, then it is useless. Workshops are a good way to share experiences, and the reason why people attend a workshop like this is to learn. Embracing the teacher dynamic with confidence may make for more coherent and engaging workshop in the future.
So, with this, and my experience in mind, I will now strive to make my Bank Street Arts paint making workshop every bit a success.
If you’re interested in attending my paint making workshop at Bank Street Arts on 28th September, you can find details here – https://www.facebook.com/events/649424818409817/?ref=22