Last weekend I was part of a group exhibition at the Old Holy Trinity Church, Wentworth called ‘Measure’ – which looks at the human soul. My own offering was a scented narrative that suggests you can weigh your soul against the virtues of your job.
This is the second outing of this particular body of work, with the first being at Sheffield Cathedral last year. I found that the informal yet contemplative space of Old Trinity Church lent itself more to audience engagement. this was evidenced by how many people took the time to look and contemplate what was in front of them. As such, conversations emerged about life, purpose, vocation, perceptions of self, perceptions of each other and indeed mortality.
It wasn’t all about Life’s Big Questions though, as the design and implementation of my work also revealed to an audience the capacity perfumery has for narrative. In this instance, the perfume I have created forms part of an installation that incorporates painting, 3D work and text. This allows my audience to directly comprehend perfumery against other more established art forms. It certainly holds it’s own and enhances the overall experience.
From a personal standpoint, placing the work in an exhibition allowed me to take a step back and contemplate it’s workings. I think this work presents a clear indication of the strong links scent has to narrative. Whether that be an audience comprising their own narrative based on recollection, or utilising the craft of perfumery to devise narratives from fragrance notes, the possibilities of utilising scent in narrative is evident.
Exhibiting at Platforms Project involved invigilating in our exhibition space 8 hours a day for 4 days. As such, it afforded me a lot of time, and I sought to utilise that time effectively to contemplate and theorise on new directions Perfume as Practice could take.
While I will always strive to exhibit 2 solo shows a year based on perfume portraiture, there are other avenues I wish to explore in an effort to widen my understanding of what perfume can be when contemplated from a contemporary art platform. One such avenue is an understanding of the capacity perfumery has for emotional responses.
By this, I mean that I want my audience to respond to my perfumes in a raw, honest way similar to how other art forms can evoke emotional responses. Often, people will tell me how a perfume I have made makes them recall certain events and experiences, no doubt due to the links scent has to memory. This is not exactly what I want to achieve. I want to see if an audience can feel a base emotion, such as love, hate, happiness or sadness without any caveats associated with memory.
It’s a seemingly simple premise, and its art functioning at its most basic level. But so strong are the links scent has to memory that I don’t know if it can be achieved. So I have decided to use a few aesthetics and visual cues that will allow an audience to respond to the perfumes within the context of emoji’s. Yes. Emoji’s.
You see, emoji’s too, function on a basic level. They are instant like the instant hint of top note you get when you spray a perfume. They can be dismissed and evaporate into the subconscious as quickly as an Eau De Toilette evaporates into the air. Fusing the craft of perfumery with the visual language of emoji’s seems to make sense. But how viable is it in practice, and how will an audience respond to it? Well, I’ll be trailing the idea at Horsforth Walk of Art, Leeds, in July. So I guess we’ll find out then!