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scents of our time

‘Scents of Our Time’ is a project that sees me create bespoke, scented candles in response to news stories. Each candle made is a response to one specific news item. These candles are then displayed in exhibitions alongside paintings that take visual cues from news graphics. The result is an exhibition space with a news studio aesthetic.


The aim of ‘Scents of Our Time’ is to shine a light on an alternative way of consuming the news: utilising the inherent qualities of candles and scent to offer a slow, thoughtful sense of reflection, contemplation and independent thought: Somewhat at odds with how the news is usually consumed.


‘Scents of our Time’ also seeks to subvert our preconception of candle making by displaying a new, unexpected utility for the craft, and placing it within a contemporary art context. That said, there is a degree of satire and absurdist humour to proceedings; I am aware that candle making is, let’s say, one of the more idiosyncratic ways of communicating the news. But I embrace that.


Each candle is a blend of soy wax, essential oils and fragrance oils.  

how is the news made?

So, how does the raw data of a news story transform into a red-hot beacon of candle-shaped information? Well, in short, though a method of interpretation and investigation that delves deeply into our relationship with scent.


When creating a candle in response to the news, I initially research which scents would be the most appropriate to use, depending on the topic, scale and severity of the news item presented. This can be rather straightforward. For example, a news item about health could include scents with a connection to medicine, such as herbs and fruits. However, sometimes I need to apply some abstract thinking to create a successful candle. A news item about death, for example, may include the scent of lilies as the language of plant symbolism sees lilies associated with death. And a news item about environmental issues might see me utilise synthetic scents to highlight a loss of nature.


Secondarily, I think about how to colour the candle. This is done using coloured soy wax. I try to keep this process simple as sometimes the scent design of a candle can be complex. A grey candle could highlight a sombre news item, for example.  


A quick word on the paintings found within ‘Scents of Our Time’, I want each one to look like a news graphic, but each one does contain a candle motif of some description; the simple shape of a candle lends itself to pattern and is easily recognisable.


where the news is found

'Scents of Our Time' lends itself primarily to solo shows. Previous shows include:

April 2022 // Fronteer Gallery, Sheffield

August 2018 // Mugen Tea House, Sheffield

July 2018 // Access Space, Sheffield

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