Perfume as Practice began as a hunch; can the craft of perfumery, if approached from a contemporary art standpoint, accommodate portraiture? If so, how? What would the process be?
Chiefly, Perfume as Practice seeks to create portraits of other artists. This is achieved through an established process that poses the question ‘why do you make art?’ Then, through interpretation, intuition and investigation, relevant oils are combined in order to achieve a fragrance that captures the artists’ persona, based on the response received.
This process raises questions of identity, gives artists a cathartic means of enforcing their creative processes and highlights the capacity scent has for communicating beyond its preconceptions. This last point is important as subverting and challenging preconceived notions and providing alternatives is vital to my creative output: I believe it can drive change, provide agency and provide a positive and constructive means of forming relationships.
This blog provides a means to highlight the possibilities of scent; describes past, present and future olfactive endeavours and provides a useful and cathartic platform to externalise some thoughts.
Earlier this month I had the privilege of staging Perfume as Practice SS19 at Lumen Crypt Gallery, London. The opportunity afforded me the chance to exhibit a solo show in London for the first time; bringing my unique approach to perfumery to a new audience.
I went into the exhibition with no real connections with the art scene in London, aside from a handful of artists I knew or worked with previously. As such, I didn’t have any expectations of how well my work would be received, or how many people would be in attendance over the 4 days. To that end, my exhibition can be deemed a relative success; it attracted the attention of over 75 people, I sold work, the exhibition was well received and, crucially, I established new connections with people and organisations – both in and out of the art world – that may well drive future development and collaboration.
The exhibition comprised a unique blend of perfume, portraiture and astronomy, with each perfume portrait adorned with a constellation. The aim was to reveal connections between artists; highlighting the thoughts, desires and motivations that drive creative action and bolstering the creative community by highlighting commonalities. I don’t know how well such notions translated into an audience experience, as most feedback centred around the unique nature of the exhibition and the delicacy of my scent design. This in itself did prove rather revealing, however, as it confirmed that my perfume making is becoming more competent.
Such is the nature of Lumen Crypt Gallery, using the walls is actually rather limited. This presented a challenge when designing visual work, as it had to be placed in the space with minimum intrusion. This actually made me work to a more disciplined brief and I think the work was better for it: I created a set of banners and assemblages that adhered to the theme of astronomy while enhancing the audiences’s experiences of the perfumes, resulting in a cohesive exhibition.
Exhibiting in London provided an opportunity to establish new connections while presenting my work to a new audience. To that end I’m very happy with what I’ve achieved. But alas, I cannot dwell for too long as my next solo exhibition – at Wolverhampton’s Asylum Gallery in June – will present a whole new opportunity. Onwards and Upwards!
The next few days will be curiously calm; they lay in between the making of the work for Perfume as Practice SS19 at Lumen Crypt Gallery and said exhibition’s installation on Wednesday.
I will chiefly use the time to promote the exhibition and, frankly, I will try to relax and prepare for the exhibition’s opening. Last week was rather frantic and my body feels strained. I want to feel in a positive physical and mental state for the Private View on Thursday as it’s important to communicate Perfume as Practice effectively to an audience.
I am happy with the work I have made. As well as containing 10 perfume portraits the exhibition adheres to the theme of astronomy. Amongst other things, this has allowed me to exercise my painting skills; creating banners of constellations which will also be adorned on perfume bottles; creating a connection between perfume and painting in a manner that aligns both disciplines.
I do hope you all can make it to Perfume as Practice SS19, which runs daily 12-6pm from 4th – 7th April. The Private View is on 4th April from 6.30-8.30pm.
Assessing astronomy and our place within the cosmos from an unexpected viewpoint is a central theme in Perfume as Practice SS19; my upcoming solo show at Lumen Crypt Gallery, London.
For the most part, this is achieved through perfumery and, specifically, comparing the intangible qualities of scent to the intangible qualities of space to see if our experiences of one inform the other. However, with the exhibition will also contain some visual work that also utilise astronomy, such as this piece, entitled Microscopium:
Microscopium comprises a set of constellations painted onto glass plates, which can then be looked at through a microscope. The piece seeks to rethink our relationship with the cosmos through placing it within the confines of a small installation, thus rendering it domestic, tangible and personal.
Perfume as Practice SS19 will run at Lumen Crypt Gallery, London, from 4th – 7th April with a Private View on 4th April from 6.30-8.30pm. Hope to see you there!
Although my forthcoming exhibition at Lumen Crypt Gallery will intrinsically involve scent, that doesn’t mean that there won’t be a few visual treats along the way and over the next few weeks I will use this blog to showcase them. As ever the overarching aim is to position perfumery within the context of contemporary art. Not only is this achieved by placing perfume directly within gallery contexts, but also by using perfumery as the subject for more established disciplines, such as drawing:
Taking direct influence from Urania’s Mirror – a set of star chart cards that illustrate the night sky – I have created a set of 6 ‘comprised constellations’ a set of drawings on blank playing cards that playfully position perfumery within the context of the astronomy. These cards will be exhibited at Lumen Crypt Gallery alongside 10 perfume portraits and other visual embellishments.
Incidentally I am looking at exploring Urania’s Mirror further in a forthcoming exhibition, which will have an open call element. Watch this space! (no pun intended.)
My first solo show of the year – Perfume as Practice SS19 at Lumen Crypt Gallery, London – is inching ever closer; in a mere 6 weeks the exhibition will be up and running. So as you might expect February has largely consisted of exhibition preparation; writing and sending invites, research, press releases, flyer images, visiting and measuring the space and, somewhere in the midst of it all – actual work!
Perfume as Practice SS19 will consist of 10 perfume portraits and visual work responding to the theme of astronomy. As such each perfume will be based on a specific constellation, and adorned with appropriate livery constructed with simple, elegant line and shape:
Perfume and astronomy have more in common than you might think, as both have a certain ethereal, intangible quality that our minds do not fully understand. Perfume as Practice SS19 hypothesises that placing astronomy in a domestic context such as perfume, and placing perfume in a vast context such as astronomy will extend our understanding of both relative to personal thoughts and experiences. And of course, the chief aims of Perfume as Practice, which are to provide an alternative utility for perfume that confounds our preconceptions while revealing the capacity perfume has for contemporary art, will also be present and correct.
Perfume as Practice SS19 opens at Lumen Crypt Gallery on 4th April.