When I started this blog I vowed never to miss a Monday. So, in an attempt to stay true to my word I’ll just use this opportunity to wish everyone a happy Christmas. I hope you all got all the perfumes and scented candles you can stomach!
2017 has seen me conduct no less than 12 perfume making workshops around the UK. And, as the last one of the year concluded on Saturday I thought it an appropriate time to document and appraise what I’ve learnt about my perfume making workshops over the last 12 months:
- It’s bloody difficult to get men engaged in the perfume making process. But when they are, they’re fully immersed and tend to create wonderful fragrances. At one point during the year I toyed with the idea of framing the workshops differently, presenting them as almost as science experiments in order to attract more men to them. I decided not to as I didn’t want to sell them on a falsehood. Still, questions around how to get more men interested in the possibilities of fragrance remain.
- I’m getting better at describing how scents smell. This is a surprisingly useful tool when trying to explain what happens to the aromatic compositions of oils when they combine. I’m by no means an expert in fragrance (and I don’t pretend to be) but using a wider and more informed vocabulary when describing scents helps reinforce my credentials as a fine art perfumer.
- I’m still learning all the time. And that’s fine as my attendees are always informed of the fact that I’m approaching perfumery differently; from the point of view of an artist. Indeed sometimes my attendees know more than me about the qualities of some of the oils. And that’s fine too; it makes workshops feel more like an exchange of knowledge, which is always welcomed.
- The process is actually quite performative. Which is good because once again it reinforces my position; I’m an artist, not a perfumer, and a bit of performance directly indicates this.
- As I now feel much more assured as a fine art perfumer compared to a year ago I think it’s time to improve the quality of my workshop materials. I feel as though the depth and value of the knowledge I impart is of a higher quality compared to last year, but the materials I use don’t reflect this. Maybe I’m being overly critical but it’s certainly something I’m thinking about.
You find me in a somewhat reflective mood, such is the mindset that the last month of the year brings. I’ve been thinking about the successes and failures of the last 12 months in the hope that I can learn from them going forward.
A few weeks ago I talked about my ethos regarding group exhibitions and how I use them to force myself out of my comfort zone. Over the last year this has seen me produce work that highlights the capacity scent has for inducing alternative thinking, narrative and symbolism.
On reflection, there are certainly two pieces of work that still stand out: ‘Zodiac Man’ about astrology in response to Valentine’s Day, and ‘Scented Spectrum’, which provides an olfactory equivalent to the colour chart.
I have a tenancy to disregard past work in favour of creating something new. As such, these two works have been a little overlooked of late. In 2018 I will at least consider showing these two again and exposing them to new audiences, spaces and contexts.
The end of the year is not only a time for reflection but also for proactivity as I intend to use this period to secure opportunities and exhibitions for 2018 and 2019. I feel more equipped than ever to make a strong case for why Perfume as Practice is a viable and meaningful exhibition, and as ever I wish to extend my creative activities both nationally and internationally.
I have a fair few things confirmed for 2018 already and am reluctant to secure many more as I don’t want them encroaching on each other. There is one project, however, that I want to introduce and exhibit in 2018 – ‘Scents of our Time’
Scents of our Time uses scent in a responsive, immediate manner; reacting to social, moral and political issues facing our time; it highlights the capacity scent has for social comment and politically engaged activity, and provides an alternative to our preconceptions of what candles can be.
From a creative standpoint, I have already trialled the making of such candles in response to the various narratives that emerged during the 2017 UK General Election. With fragrances including ‘Magic Money Tree’, ‘One Minute Silence’ and ‘Climate Concerns’. Each fragrance utilises fragrances contextually relevant to the subject.
The candles I make will be exhibited in a manner that apes commercialism – each candle will be branded under a ‘Scents of our Time’ banner and at first glance the exhibition may appear simply as a collection of commercially available candles. However the intent of each candle will be revealed to an audience once they directly engage.
From a practical standpoint, ‘Scents of our Time’ might be a bit of a hard sell in terms of securing an exhibition venue. It is, after all, a rather immediate project that needs to react to news events on a daily basis if it’s to stay relevant. Perhaps attempting to secure a residency or an exhibition where I create candles in situ may be the most appropriate thing to do. Either way I believe I have a workable proof of concept, so let’s see if I can achieve my aims.