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In the wake of climate change may we utilise perfumery as a means of preserving vulnerable botanical specimens, subverting our expectations of perfumery and re-positioning it as a tool for preservation in the process? That’s what my latest range of perfumes seek to discover:

The Society for Life After Soil takes the essential oils of botanical specimens deemed vulnerable and suspends them in a carrier. Preserving their essence so that, in a time of catastrophe, we will have preserved a value natural source. This range of perfumes suggests a new, unexpected utility for perfumery and highlights the capacity scent has for narrative and environmental concepts when placed on a contemporary art platform.

The Society for Life After Soil will debut at Botanicals – an exhibition of contemporary art based on the theme of botanics, to be Held at Exchange Place Studios, Sheffield, from 6th – 27th July. A Private View of the exhibition will take place on 5th July, from 6-8pm. Hope to see you there.


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My next Perfume as Practice solo exhibition opens at Asylum Gallery, Wolverhampton, on 15th June, with the Private view at 6-9pm. As you may know, I theme my Perfume as Practice exhibitions around specific themes. Doing so allows me to respond to spaces and place perfumery in different contexts, reveling the capacity scent has to accommodate contemporary art concepts. It also allows me to play with a fragrance industry convention of unveiling a themed or seasonal collection.

The theme for my Wolverhampton show is ‘Protest’, which has been a tricky subject to frame Perfume as Practice around. Initial thoughts revolved around historical uses of scent to as a means of controlling groups of people. However, this would place scent in a somewhat negative light, and if Perfume as Practice is about one thing, it’s about highlighting how perfume can unify and bolster creative communities when considered as an artform. With this in mind – and considering how protests bring people together in an act of unity – I decided to take the opportunity of utilising ‘protest’ to place perfumery in a positive light; revealing it’s capacity for community spirit, peace, empowerment and agency.

I’ve also used the exhibition as an opportunity to re-brand my image a little. You see, Perfume as Practice has always attempted to demystify the perfume making process; allowing it to be regarded not merely as a luxury commodity, but as a tool of expression that can give others a voice. Perfume is power, and I want to shout about it; as a Perfumer of the People.

You can find out more about by forthcoming Perfume as Practice Private View here. I hope to see you there.


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May has been a rather busy and productive month, as no doubt evidenced by my distinct lack of blogging. In between making perfumes for exhibitions, running workshops and playing with audio/visual equipment I’ve seldom had the time to sit, think and reflect. But guess what? Now is that time. So let’s have it.

The beginning of May saw me stage a group exhibition with arts collective Oracles, who focus of themes of loss, history and religion. The exhibition was staged at Halifax Minster, and was entitled ‘And …Forgive Us Our Trespasses’. It looked at the Seven Deadly Sins, with each artist choosing a sin each to respond to. Given the somewhat alluring connotations associated with perfume, the sin I chose was lust. My work, entitled ‘Seven Keys’ sought to tread the line between love and lust:

My work adhered to a simple premise; 7 perfumes are presented, six depicting lust and one depicting lust. The perfumes depicting lust contained synthetic ingredients, referencing the superficial, material workings of lust on the brain. The perfume depicting love housed only natural ingredients, referencing the inherent ‘realness’ of love, which can be subtle, quiet, but no less potent.

I believe this simple premise worked, allowing the audience to comprehend the artistic capabilities of scent design and it’s ability to house concepts and narratives, such as the Seven Deadly Sins. Conversations with the audience revolved around how I’d been able to harness the craft of perfumery for contemporary art ends, and how their expectations were somewhat confounded. This is always my aim, and to hear it relayed back to you is very gratifying.

Creative endeavours throughout the rest of May have centred on something not altogether connected with perfume. Rather, it has seen me create a short, somewhat irreverent film revealing the creative concerns of artists working in Sheffield. The film is imaginatively titled ‘Michael Borkowsky’s Art Thing’ though perhaps a more pertinent title would be ‘I Don’t Really Know What I’m Doing’. After all, this is the first time I have entered the realm of filmmaking and, if there’s one thing I’ve learnt, it’s that editing is the hardest thing in the world.

Still, creating such a piece of work has provided the opportunity to learn new skills and meet new people, such as Sean Maddison-Brown, who helped me present a segment of the film:

I’m looking forward to the end result, and to making new films in the future. I will certainly streamline the process though. Can’t have my perfume based larks playing second-fiddle; Especially when an upcoming solo exhibition in Wolverhampton at Asylum Gallery looms.


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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!

 

 


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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. 

 


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