Earlier this month I exhibited at Platforms Project, Athens as part of a group exhibition that looked at the contemplation of our solar system. I, alongside artists Sharon Mossbeck and Alison Whitmore, took 3 planets and interpreted them through our own modes of enquiry with reference to Ancient Greece.
Sharon’s work comprised painting and cross-stitch, Alison’s comprised sculptural and works and I presented 3 perfumes, each representing the Greek gods of Zeus, Kronos and Ouranos.
Platforms Project – which is an art fair – was well attended. It reached 16,000 people and our exhibition was well received. I even managed to sell a thing or two, which is great. There are, however, a few caveats with regard to my own work that should be addressed if I am to learn anything and develop from the experience. You see, after much consideration of how to translate three Greek Gods into a scented experience, I decided ultimately to play it straight – simply designing 3 perfumes that acted as portraits of each God. I assumed that this would result in a clear connection between object and concept and would transcend language barriers.
Ironically, by playing it so straight I exposed just how obtuse the notion of a perfume portrait actually is. While the audience did seem to rather like the scents and visual embellishment on display at a base level, the link between the perfumes and the Greek Gods wasn’t as clear as I thought it would be. It required further explanation, which wasn’t always easy to do due to a combination of a complex concept and the language barrier. (although this is partly my fault – I really ought to learn Greek if I’m going there every year.)
Interestingly, a volunteer who also helped out with Platforms Project last year said that she remembered the scented experience I designed last year and that, while she liked what I did this year, she loved what I did last year, which was essentially a narrative based on the notion of The Grand Tour, which incorporated scent:
So perhaps scented sculptural work designed to tell a story, rather than a straight perfume portrait, would actually be more successful in engaging a wider audience? Or maybe the Greek Gods and the complexities of their narratives would benefit from a different approach to a straight perfume portrait? Perhaps a more careful consideration of why I’m choosing specific scented designs is required, based on the concepts I’m trying to reveal.
Either way, it was once again a pleasure to exhibit at Platforms Project and naturally it was another great chance to visit a beautiful city. But maybe next time I’ll leave the perfume at home.
Next week I travel to Athens to participate in Platforms Project – an independent art fair in the heart of the city. It’s the 3rd time I will have entered work into the art fair, and the 2nd time I’ve directly been involved in the curation and installation of my work.
This year my participation in Platforms Project will once again take the guise of a group exhibition. The exhibition, entitled ‘Wonderer’ seeks to reacquaint an audience with Ancient Greek appropriations of the planets.
The exhibition comprises 3 artists – myself, Sharon Mossbeck and Alison Whitmore – and we have taken 3 planets each to interpret, explore and interpret from an Ancient Greek context. My chosen planets are Uranus, Saturn and Jupiter. Or, as the Ancient Greeks would have it; Ouranous, Kronos and Zeus – three Greek Gods with a family lineage.
So how does a fine art perfumer go about creating something from these three Gods? Well, by taking advantage of the family lineage and utilising the capacity fragrance has for narrative, metaphor and I have encapsulated the planets of Ouranous, Kronos and Zeus in three separate fragrances.
Each fragrance contains potent spices and woody notes; alluding to their godly, confident qualities and direct family history. Yet they also contain delicate floral notes, zesty fruits and earthy spices in an attempt to describe each God’s individual narrative.
Each perfume is a portrait of the respective God and is as rich and complex as you might expect from portraiture. Hopefully my audience at Platforms Project will agree that my unique approach to perfumery reveals a meaningful and untapped art form.
Natasha Safavi Martin 50ml EDT
Head – Lemon, bergamot
Heart – Cypress, pine
Body – Dill, hyssop
Description – A display of how fragrance can contain narratives while evoking the feeling associated with a sense of place, this fragrance begins surrounded by fresh Italian fruits before journeying to the cypress fields of France and the mammoth pines of Finland. We wind up in Hungary, shrouded by the warming and accomplished qualities of hyssop and dill. An epic tale, for sure!
This perfume is one of fifteen housed at Bureau, Blackburn from 12th – 26th April as part of my solo exhibition, Perfume as Practice.
Chris Oliver 50ml EDT
Head – Grapefruit, Tangerine
Heart – Lavender
Body – Clove Bud, Myrrh
Description – Drawing cues from travel, this fragrance provides you with all the apparatus you need for the road ahead.
This perfume was exhibited at Surface Gallery, Nottingham, from 3rd – 18th November 2017
I have been invited to submit small scale works for Here and Now – an exhibition at ASC Studios, London- later this month. The exhibition has given me further opportunity to acquaint myself with cartography and, particularly, the capacity cartography has for symbolism and hidden language:
I present to the exhibition two postcards, each depicting and exaggerating our collective relationships with travel, experiences and sense of place. These postcards harness the notion of a phantom map (i.e a map that depicts a fictitious geographical space) and as such, use the language of drawing to highlight the enrichment gained from travel.
Here and Now will be showing at ASC Studios, London, from 18th – 25th July. The Opening Evening is on the 18th July from 6-8pm. All welcome!
Concluding that inward desires now hark for a return journey, I travel west back to England equipped with all but 1 member of the fragrance family.
Informed by my experiences in Greece and the acquiring of scented knowledge, I compile one last fragrance from of Dionysus. It is redesigned for English audiences with respect, not spite. As such, a votive offering of wine is created, referencing at once Dionysus’ religious and cultural prowess and his capacity for madness.
New Dionysus 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)
Heading north-east and void of all frivolities it becomes apparent that outer desires removed from travel begin to ensue, and I find myself at a crossroads where such longing needs to be extinguished or embraced.
The Thrice Tenth Kingdom 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)
Returning to European territory and equipped with the reverence of my experiences the raw and joyous freedom of travel begins to return. Aloof, I venture unknown through complex floral landscapes and, like a frightened deer caught in a net, lose my sense of direction.
My panicked dispositions eventually wane as I rest by a stream. I conclude that arrogance attempted to best the noble virtues of the job in hand. As I gazed at my own reflection I reconvened with my own sense of humility, less I become cursed by vanity.
Narcissus and Echo 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)
Adrift, I forge refuge in what was once known as The Orient and am overcome by desire to consume knowledge. My journey has previously been dictated by chance and, as a means to assume order, enlightenment and fulfilment; I turn to study. As such I build a platform from which to continue; informed and humbled.
The Book of Thoth 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)
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)