It has come to my attention that the 12 perfume portraits I created for my summer exhibition at Asylum Gallery, Wolverhampton have not gone through any kind of documentation process. So, as a means of rectifying such wrongs I thought I’d compose a blog post that acts as an overview of said perfume portraits and an explanation of the exhibition.
So, June 2019 saw me house 12 perfume portraits at Asylum Gallery Wolverhampton. As ever each perfume was created by utilising my established process that begins with asking artists the question ‘why do you make art?’ then responding to the answer through scent design; capturing the essence of the artist.
Each of the 12 responses were as varied, personal and wide-ranging as you would expect, and my challenge is to create coherent, unique fragrances that do justice to each response given. Often, this involves a great deal of research, and I need to deploy methods such as contextualising each perfume around a theme in order to arrive at a meaningful fragrance. In this exhibition, for example, one artist framed their response to the question ‘why do you make art?’ around the notion that creative action elicits a sense of purpose. So for this fragrance I decided to contextualise the response around Greek Mythology, and, in particular the story of Prometheus: The perfume contained moist woody notes symbolising Mount Olympus, where Prometheus stole fire – represented by potent spicy heart notes – and gave it to man, symbolised by musk. Fire enabled us to understand our intrinsic relationship with the world and, by extension, ourselves.
Through such a process this exhibition saw me use perfumery to cite aromatherapy, medicine, light and colour, love letters, religion, ritual, alchemy and, indeed, a curiously conceptual perfume about perfume itself, which happened to be my 100th perfume portrait.
Since June I have staged another Perfume as Practice exhibition at Centrespace, Bristol. I’ll let you know how that went later in the week.