The exploration of scent in art is seldom practised by artists and, as a result, isn’t particularly acknowledged by arts venues, organisations or funding bodies. As such it comes with a unique problem – how do you make scent in art seem viable and meaningful when applying for applications and funding?
I don’t particularly have an answer to this as it’s something I’m trying to figure out myself. Recent failures to acquire funding from Arts Council England have centred on not providing evidence of artistic quality. From this, should I deduce that I haven’t described the relevance and viability of scent coherently enough? Or should I attempt to structure the assessment of my work around its visual aesthetics? Arts Council England are not nominally about visual art, but olfactory art is such an underdeveloped and under-evaluated discipline that perhaps leaning a little more on the visual merits of what I do would be advantageous? After all, each perfume is bottled, and each exhibition is visually embellished and themed in order to ape the conventions of the fragrance industry, this in turn allows them to possess a degree of social engagement. Perhaps this describes the degree of artistic quality needed?
Saying that, I have recently been successful in securing a paid residency opportunity in Sheffield, so perhaps persistence and discovering the right opportunity at the right time is what’s required? I do feel somewhat buoyed by the opportunity as it feels like confirmation of the relevance of what I do, and it gives me a degree of confidence going forward.
Given all this, perhaps my attempts at securing funding are essentially no different from the battles many other artists encounter. After all, we’re all navigating our way through our own artistic careers; it’s just that some careers are more fragrant than others.