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Bottled Up – Thoughts Towards Turning Ideas into Perfume

If we think of the reasons why an idea within creative practice remains unfinished, the implications are that the artist thinks the idea cannot be fully realised within any context or space. Possibly because it is too vague an idea, too fragmented, not applicable in relation to other output or perhaps just a little too tired, trite or contrived.

At the same time, perfume exists in a space that cannot quite be considered fine art. It exists in a way similar to how craft beer or gastro-food exists: Yes, there is a great deal of skill and artistry involved, but there is a certain element lacking – whether that be aesthetic, spiritual or intellectual – that removes perfume from a fine art context. Perhaps it’s because perfume largely exists as a product and, as such, does what it is supposed to do at face value. It largely doesn’t attempt to communicate any concepts that would allow it to be comprehended and engaged with for more than the sum of it’s parts. You may argue that it doesn’t need to. But my suggestion is that it could and, if it could, it may provide a new way of understanding non-visual experiences.

Halted ideas and perfume may well be able to compliment each other and as such, develop our thoughts towards the nature of non-visual ways of relating to the world. Indeed, perfume could provide an ideal metaphor for an idea that can’t reach fruition: Such an idea exists bottled up inside your mind and when considered it surrounds you with thoughts, feelings and recalled experiences that are not fully understood and will again disappear. This echos how a spray of perfume initially bursts onto the scene, full and flavorful yet in a way not fully understood, before disappearing into obscurity.

Halted ideas and perfume are both two entities that are just shy of being comprehended as a means of fine art. They cannot quite harness abstract thought and as such, cannot quite engage an audience with moral, social, political or experiential potency which I believe is fundamental in the transience from art to fine art.

Perhaps the issue is that perfumes and halted ideas exist in ways which have to be knowingly imagined – they can’t be directly comprehended as there is a degree of intangibility. Combining both within some kind of art practice will probably not suddenly allow them to be tangible but will instead suggest that they can be directly comprehended despite intangibility. They will become enhanced, loaded with each others’ connotations, and as such our understanding of both the nature of perfume and the nature of creative processes will be furthered.

I would suggest that utilising both within creative practice provides perfume with a means to transcend it’s face value and allows unfulfilled ideas to finally exist in a space where they can be engaged with. Thus providing an audience with a new way to regard both entities and a new way for both entities to exist relative to each other. It may also allow the artist to reflect on the very nature of ideas, how they can be formed and what shape they could take – even a shape that they might not recognise or identify with.

So, why the hell am I tell you all this? Well, because such thoughts will form a basis for my year-long research-led residency at Bank Street Arts. The residency initially emerged as a way to further my paint-making exploits, but has since evolved into something which sees me finally make a meaningful transition away from paint and into the nature of utilising scent within artistic practice – something I have been skirting around for years but now have a strong platform from which to develop.


My residency began as a way to continue my paint-based exploits but has since evolved into the idea of perfumery.

I seek to investigate how creative processes can be applied to the nature of perfumery in a way that is beneficial and meaningful. I would like to answer questions both of how halted ideas can become realised and how the nature of perfumery can be applied to fine art in a coherent way. Along the way I might well come along questions concerning reliance on vision, how the concept of the 5 senses is outdated and how ideas can be re-contextualised as products. For now, though, I am looking for artists to provide me with ideas that have halted somewhere within the creative process which I will create a perfume from. Please email if you do have any ideas. Many thanks 🙂

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