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Perfume Portraits – Bone Cancer Stories

Yesterday the Bone Cancer Research Trust celebrated their 10th anniversary with a gala and conference at The Tetley. The event highlighted the trials of Bone Cancer and the research being undertaken to find a cure. It provided me with insight into the disease, ways in which people cope and the courage and compassion displayed by people dealing with the disease in one way or another.

I was tasked with creating a scented trail around The Tetley that captured the essence of 10 individuals affected by bone cancer, many of which having sadly passed away.

Conceptually, I decided to create one perfume that more widely described bone cancer, and add a drop of it to each perfume portrait. This, to an extent, allowed each perfume portrait to describe the individual rather than the illness. This is important as it was clear that no-one was defined by their bone cancer, and as such I wanted to pull from their stories the positive and unique traits that made them who they were.


A perfume more widely describing bone cancer. One drop of this was included in each bone cancer perfume portrait story. 

The 10 perfume portraits carried a level of depth to them that reflects how humans adapt to adversity. There seems to be a terrible irony that illnesses such as bone cancer actually bring out a lot of good in people. This was reflected in the perfumes I made, as all 10 perfume portraits displayed the bravery and courageousness that emerges whilst fighting such a disease, as well as communicating to an audience a means of reflection, contemplation and strength in mutual association and shared experiences.

The perfumes carried a certain weight that was absent during my portraits of other artists, and as such were approached with a level of nuance and consideration. Essentially, I wanted to do each individual justice and offer a great deal of respect while also providing an alternative way of investigating the human elements of the disease. Feedback from others – including the families of those I had made perfume portraits from – was overwhelmingly positive and for that I am very happy. Overall it was a very rewarding and insightful project and provided me with a new avenue to investigate how scent can be a form of communication.

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