I am a multidisciplinary artist with an MA in Fine Art and a recently acquired MA in Ceramics. I have exhibited widely across the UK but this is the first time I am showing paintings and ceramics together in response to smell.
For the last three years I have been responding to smell, specifically perfume, based on the concept of synaesthesia, where one sense stimulates another sense or senses.
I became interested in synaesthesia when painting and printmaking in response to the powerful visual metaphors in poetry, prompted by a previous BA in English Language and English Literature. This led to an interest in perfume, and how that could be used as a stimulus. To further this I took an intensive course in perfumery where I was able to learn more about perfume and discuss my ideas around smell and synaesthesia. I then started a collaboration with a perfume house called Parterre producing paintings, ceramics and poetry in response to their four signature fragrances. This work resulted in a Distinction for my MA and large exhibition at Keyneston Mill, home of the perfume house.
My ceramics are fired to stoneware and suitable for outside, so a large proportion of the exhibition was in the formal gardens at Keyneston Mill. I have also just exhibited at the Pergaudeo 111 exhibition at Shaftesbury Arts Centre along the same theme.
As I am endeavouring not to default to an entirely visual orientation of the world but to encourage an immersive experience which also engages the olfactory and haptic senses, each piece is accompanied by a pebble infused with the particular smell to which I have responded. The audience is invited to smell the pebble as well as to touch the vessels, encouraging a more interactive relationship with the work.
Whilst providing a more engaging experience for any audience I could also see the particular relevance of art based on the olfactory sense for the visually impaired. Booklets of haiku I have written in response to the perfumes accompany the work, each haiku also having its Braille translation.
My paintings are a combination of acrylics and oils with raw pigment and other materials such as carborundum. I am naturally drawn to energetic and vibrant colours and spontaneous gestural mark-making and when I also started working in ceramics I wanted to be able to reflect that style.
I finally resolved on the combined use of use of slips, underglazes and stains for my vessels as the colours before firing are pretty similar to those after. They also allowed me to paint with the free gestural marks I use in my paintings and achieve an overall synergy between the two dimensional and the three. They can also have a matt finish which is generally the surface I want although sometimes I do contrast matt areas with glazed sections.
I also make large platters which again provide a good surface for my abstract painting. Some of these are fully glazed which others are matt with occasional areas highlighted with a clear transparent glaze.
Each of my vessels is topped by a ‘crest’ which unites the work, giving it a ‘family’ feel, as well as further representing the shapes of the fragrance I am responding to. The flat, graphic silhouettes of the crests provide an interesting juxtaposition with the rounded forms of the vessels.
I am now broadening my response to smell from perfume specifically to more generic smells like that of grass after rain or the immediate hit of salty sea air, especially marked after a period of absence.
I have a one-man show at Moorfields Eye Hospital in London next year with dates to be confirmed. I also plan to take part in Dorset Art Weeks and Surrey Open Studios next Summer.
For more details, please contact me.