The connection between perfume and art dates back to Marcel Duchamp’s Belle Halaine: Eau de Violette in 1921. Perfume, like ceramics, has struggled to be recognised as an art form and not a craft.
As I became increasingly interested in exploring synaesthesia I started thinking about producing work in response to the olfactory sense. To further this, I undertook an intensive course with Perfumers’ World at the University of Winchester which served to reinforce the link between perfume and synaesthesia and how that could inform my work.
As this multisensory work would engage the haptic and olfactory as well as the visual sense I could see it being of interest to the visually impaired as well as providing a different, more engaging and immersive viewing experience for any audience.
I presented to the Arts Committee of Moorfields Eye Hospital in London who were excited by the idea and agreed to a three-month exhibition. I also presented my ceramics sketchbooks and examples of my paintings to the perfume house, Parterre, located at Keyneston Mill in Dorset. Parterre too were excited by this idea and alongside collaborating on the scents offered me a two month exhibition starting in June 2022.
History of Parterre
Keyneston Mill, Parterre’s home, was formerly a large orchard, remnants of which still remain including an area for beehives. Each of their formal gardens represents one of the fragrance families of floral, fougere (fern), spice and citrus. The design of the floral garden, called the Padua Garden, is based on the Orto Botanico, the oldest university garden in the world, founded in 1545 in Padua by the Venetian Republic. There are also trial beds where Parterre experiment with potential new perfume ingredients.
Parterre’s co-founder, Julia Bridger, is very engaged with the concept of visually representing their fragrances and we have spent many hours analysing the smell of their fragrances in terms of their shape, sound and colour. She has asked me to talk on synaesthesia during my exhibition as well as explaining how my work had evolved in the context of the fragrances.