Being a fine art perfumer, I occupy a somewhat precarious niche. I’m not in a position to claim I am a perfumer as I do not have any direct experience in the profession. Yet through a combination of research, exploration, intuition and a little expert guidance, I have come to understand the perfume making process. And when my unique approach to perfumery is also taken into account, It becomes apparent that I can offer a meaningful exchange of knowledge through perfume making workshops.
The key is transparency. In an effort to manage expectations I begin each workshop with a full disclosure detailing my fine art background, my approach to perfumery and how my workshops are about experimentation and exploring the full possibilities of fragrance from a contemporary art context. Each workshop is framed this way and as such, each participant is aware that they are being guided by someone who is an artist, not a perfumer. This is an important nuance to clarify as it defines and contextualises the entire workshop – establishing the fact that they are all about creating art using the medium of fragrance and the craft of perfumery.
In a physical sense, each participant leaves with a work of art crafted using perfume making techniques; it is nominally a bespoke bottle of 50ml eau de toilette. But they also understand that, while they haven’t been guided by someone with an extensive knowledge of perfumery and fragrance, they have been guided by an artist who has highlighted the capacity fragrance has to accommodate contemporary art concepts; including portraiture, narrative, metaphor and symbolism.
From my point of view, these workshops are among the most satisfying to deliver as I feel that there is a mutual exchange of knowledge between myself and the participants: Many are equipped with basic knowledge of essential oils, aromatherapy and fragrance, and are keen to learn how to apply such knowledge to art and perfume. Whereas I am keen to extend my knowledge of the ingredients found in perfume in order to effectively utilise them from a contemporary art platform.
These last two weeks have seen me deliver no less than 4 perfume making workshops across the UK. Long may they continue.