This week I visited Burberry at Old Sessions House in London for the exhibition ‘Here We Are’ curated by Christopher Bailey, Lucy Kumara Moore and Alasdair McLellan – in celebration of the September 2017 Burberry collection. I’d seen that Skye from @georgianlondon had been via her Instagram Stories and thought it looked wonderful…and it was! It finishes tomorrow so if you read this in time you really should go…and the cafe is great too! You can see the Steller Story Version here
This week I was invited by Somerset House to experience their current exhibition ‘Perfume’ – A Sensory Journey Through Contemporary Scent and I also had the opportunity to create my own, personal scent with the Experimental Perfume Club. I was really excited as those of you who have followed my blog for a while will know how inspired I am by scent and the incredible memories and stories it provokes.
Last November I created a scent installation for the Artists Open Houses in Brighton which you can read about here in my post about ‘The Scented Shed’ and there are also links to some of my other scent related blog posts at the end of this one. The exhibition is about the journey of contemporary, niche perfumery; perfume as works of art creating a whole experience rather than just a fashion accessory.
There are 10 perfumes exhibited, in simple, atmospheric installations where you can soak up the scent and allow your memories and imagination to mingle with the perfumes. The perfumes are representatives of key moments of the 21st Century shift into using synthetic scent. The perfumes are exhibited unlabelled so as not to hinder your sensory journey. But before you explore the exhibits there is a table of perfume history…L’Origan by Coty, 1905, ( below ) was the first floral oriental perfume and was pioneering for its use of synthetic ingredients in conjunction with natural materials and Chypre by Coty, 1917, ( below ) is regarded as one of the scents that defined modern perfumery… Shocking by Schiaparelli, 1937, ( below ) was arguably the first multi sensory perfume and captured the high glamour mood of the 1930’sPossibly the world’s most famous perfume, Chanel No 5, 1921, ( below ) created for Coco Chanel by Ernest Beaux… Youth Dew by Esteé Lauder, 1953, ( below ) created to be an accessible luxury for the emerging, post war middle classes and marked a transition in global perfumery, shifting its influence from Europe to America…Opium by Yves St Laurent, 1977, ( below )…it is considered one of the most controversial scents of the century, apparently bringing illicit thrills to a decade which embraced more casual conversations around sex…( my mum wore this one in the 1980’s!! ) After exploring the table of scent history we explored the main exhibition and were encouraged to make notes…and maybe create a new sort of descriptive vocabulary… Being a synaesthete I was in my element being able to make visual notes rather than trying to use words…even though I didn’t have time to complete them.
I don’t want to spoil things for you in case you’re able to get along to the exhibition so the following photographs show how the perfumes are displayed and how you interact with them, ie; there are objects in all the images which were infused with the scent. You can spot them by noticing a hole or circular mesh, rather than just telling you what they are or who the artist was behind them…( although I list the artists and perfumes at the end of the blog post so you can have a stab at guessing. )
After the curated tour of the scents we then had the wonderful experience of creating our own personal scent in Le Petit Parfum workshop with Emmanuelle Moeglin from The Experimental Perfume Club; using our instincts to select our favourite olfactory notes and accords…
I discovered that I’m naturally drawn to citrus top notes, spicy heart notes and woody and oriental base notes and I managed to blend a perfume I was really happy with!
…and then to the shop, and of course I had to go home with the complete set of exhibition scented postcards! …and in my dreams Daniela Andrier’s ‘Rain Cloud’ would have been the scent I would have really liked to take home… …instead I satisfied myself with a shot of one of the wonderful staircases at Somerset House as I left the building, but very definitely followed by olfactory ghosts which stayed with me for days.The exhibition runs until 17th September and the 10 perfume ‘provocateurs’ are: Mark Buxton’s ‘Comme des Garçons 2′, Geza Schoen’s ‘Molecule 01’, Antoine Lee’s ‘Sécrétions Magnifiques’, Bertrand Duchaufour’s ‘Catholic Mass’, Daniela Andrier’s ‘Purple Rain’, David Seth Moltz’s ‘El Cosmico’, Lyn Harris’s ‘Charcoal’, Andy Tauer’s L’Air Du Desert Marocain, Killian Wells’s ‘Dark Ride’ and Prada’s ‘Iris’
If you wanted to read about some of my perfume and scent projects here are some previous blog posts: Monday…with Pop Ups and Perfume, Saturday…with Scented Reflections and Thursday…with Floris and Scent
Last month I visited the new Design Museum in Kensington, London for a look around the ‘Breathing Colour’ exhibition by Hella Jongerius.
I didn’t know much about it but knew that it would definitely appeal to my obsessive sense of colour…
What I hadn’t anticipated was how the exhibition and the way in which Hella Jongerius explores and works with colour, would form part of a new appreciation I am personally exploring at the moment with colour, light and shadow.
I recently read Tanizaki’s ‘In Praise of Shadows’ which opened up so many questions and thoughts about how I view light and shadow, and so to then walk into an exhibition which examines how colours change and ‘breathe’ with times of day was not only serendipitous but also completely fascinating.The exhibition examines how we perceive colour and encourages us to be receptive of the effect that shape, texture, pattern and colour have on each other and Hella Jongerius has created a collection of Colour Catchers and textiles in an immersive light changing environment which leads you to experience metarism where colours come to life, changing and morphing at different times.
Hella Jongerius says of the Colour Catchers which she creates;
‘These Colour Catchers are an abstaraction of all the daily objects which surround me. They are the ultimate shapes for researching colour, shadows and reflections. They are my canvases.
‘The colour phenomena and optical effects demonstrated in this exhibition are not just abstract theories. The exhibits are designed to provide knowledge about colour that can add value to practical objects and improve our daily lives.’ I have always found the perception of colour fascinating and when I was studying Art A Level my art teacher completely opened my mind to seeing colours in places I had never seen them before. My work at that time became way too obsessed with colour, because it really was like I was seeing the world with new eyes…shadow and tone went out of the window and to be honest, they are still always something I have to work harder to see.
This exhibition really re-awakened my interest in colour as well as colour theory but also opened another door into the joy of shadows, alongside the Tanizaki I’d been reading.
The exhibition is a brilliant contemplation of colour and really lets you think and look at the world around you; the visual, tactile world as well as the intangible, ever changing world of light and shadow around us.
If you are in London over the Summer and up to 24rd September, you really should try and get to see the ‘Breathing Colour’ exhibition and visit the Design Museum itself. It’s an inspiring study and collection of work focused around colour which would appeal to fellow colour enthusiasts like me, but also those people who struggle with colour.
More information about the Design Museum here
I’m staying in Amsterdam for a couple of day with my son as he’s just finished his GCSE’s and I thought he could do with a post exam treat…I’m on a kind of digital diet because part of the holiday deal was that I wasn’t always on my phone! But with a bit of spare time before we head out for supper tonight, I thought I’d share my pics…lots of which I took before he was even awake this morning as I got into trouble last night for taking too many…
He’s mad on film so we visited the EYE Film Museum with their Scorsese exhibition today as well as the Art Deco Tuschinski Cinema…
I haven’t got enough time to write about each pic so it’s just a glut of images and will hope to have another batch tomorrow!
This week I was invited by Georg Jensen to visit their Mount St store in London to watch one of their Danish silversmiths from Copenhagen, Tina Bentzen, demonstrate some of her techniques, her sketches, answer questions and show us some of her amazing hand made pieces.
It was an event which was part of London Craft Week which runs from May 3rd – 7th 2017. London Craft Week is an annual event showcasing exceptional craftsmanship through a programme which features hidden workshops and unknown makers alongside celebrated masters, famous studios, galleries, shops and luxury brands.
I was really excited to visit Georg Jensen as I absolutely love their designs and also the fact that they champion design collaborations between architects and fashion designers such as Zaha Hadid and Ilse Crawford.
Tina Bentzen started at Georg Jensen as a silversmith apprentice in 2006 and finished in 2009 and since then has worked on various hollowware products and has an extensive knowledge and expertise, often being involved in product development projects, like Kengo Kuma and the re-launch of the Bernadotte cocktail set.
I have always been interested in craft and design, choosing to study the History of Design at Manchester Met years ago… a course which unfortunately I never finished as I decided to train at RADA instead . I’ve always loved design and been fascinated by working processes, so being able to have a glimpse into how a silversmith works was perfect…
Below is the original 1939 design for the Bernadotte Cocktail Shaker… There are hundreds of hammers to use in the workshop, but each silversmith has one personal hammer which they make themselves, and the one below is Tina’s… The finished Bernadotte Cocktail set…Hours of work goes into each piece with different specialists working on different elements: there is a chaser who is able to create the marks within a piece and a spinner who works on a machine to create the shape. I hadn’t realised that often silverware is a collaborative process between different craftspeople.
The soup tureen below was also made by Tina and took over 600 hours of work and used at least 7 different solders…After the demonstration I popped downstairs to have a look at their new cocktail set Manhattan as I’m particularly in love with the bowls…I just love looking at them as their smoothness and reflections are incredible…I was inspired by seeing Tina work and thought how amazing it is to have a particular craft and talent to make such exquisite pieces. I thought the personal touches, like making her own hammer, which is such an integral element of her work, was really important; creating and adapting your work tools is part of what makes every piece of art unique; it’s the artist’s hand, the artist’s movement and the artist’s personality, is what creates a truly beautiful piece of work.
I realised when I got home that I also had a favourite hammer, and although it’s only used for domestic chores, it was made by my grandfather who started off as a carpenter and it’s precious because this was his hammer…
The following day I visited the V & A Museum to see the Silver Speaks: ‘Idea to Object’ display in the Silver Galleries with a talk from Design critic, journalist and curator, Corinne Julius, which was another London Craft Week Event…
Corinne Julius discussed the works on display with a selection of the makers and there were demonstrations with silversmith Abigail Brown from Contemporary British Silversmiths as well as Tina Bentzen from Georg Jensen… Tina was working with the tea leaf container from the new Kusa tea set , designed by Kengo Kuma, before the oxidisation process which turns the inside elements to a charcoal black finish. Tina would then polish the outer silver giving it the 2 tone effect. This is one of the Georg Jensen images of the finished set…The Silver Speaks: Idea to Object display was also really interesting as it was virtually all non functional silver and explorations in design from contemporary British silversmiths alongside some of their workings such as notes, models and found objects. ’Animus’ by Kevin Gray ’Ice Tea for One’ by Rajesh Gogna Pillow Cutlery set by Angela Cork Silver and Leather Clutch by Kyosun Jung ’Urban’ Candle Holder by Anna Lorenz Alistair McCallum’s Silver Vase with Makume Gane Rim alongside his spontaneous sketches ( on betting slips! ) Rebecca de Quin’s ‘Four Vessel Set’ (with a group of her paper models below ) Below was my favourite piece in the display ‘Boscawen-Un’ Vessel by Abigail Brown who was interested in the symbiotic relationships between man and stone and lichen and stone. The vessel was designed to evoke a monolith much like the standing stones in Cornwall, which is where Abigail lives. Abigail was also demonstrating in the silver galleries and having learned what chasing was the day before, it was brilliant to actually see a silversmith doing some deep relief chasing; the silver vessel being supported and filled with pitch, made from Stockholm tar, pine resin and tallow, so that the silver still has movement when being hammered.
There is an original Georg Jensen tea pot set from 1911, made by Georg Jensen himself for a cabinet maker friend who had designed his bedroom furniture!The Silver Galleries are spectacular and show something of a completely different age…I was trying to explain to my son a couple of days ago what decadence was…I reckon a trip here would probably illustrate that pretty well!
The decadence of this giant wine cooler, in my personal opinion, is dwarfed by the simpler, stylish tea set…
…or coffee pot It was so brilliant to have a wander around part of the V & A Museum which I had never been to before. The museum has so much to offer that you can never really squash it all into one day. I’m obsessed with The Antiques Roadshow ( it really is my favourite television programme ) and I loved looking at all the little bits and pieces in the cabinets, imagining them turning up in a box of bric a brac at a car boot sale, waiting to be discovered by a potential visitor to the Roadshow! It was hard to pull myself away and head back to Brighton; there was so much to tempt me to stay longer all the way to the exit, so I will definitely be going back to spend more time exploring soon… It’s been such a fascinating and inspiring couple of days for me which has really left me fired up to connect to my own painting and making again.
You can still catch London Craft Week as it runs all over this weekend, so if you’re in London you really should have a look at some of the events which are happening all over the capital…I certainly feel very lucky, thanks to Georg Jensen, that I was able to experience and learn so much about silver.
Yesterday I was invited to The Greenwich Peninsula to see the new floral art installation ’The Iris’ by Rebecca Louise Law at the NOW Gallery… The gallery itself is lovely and I was particularly taken with their mini pink cinema… Over this weekend there is also a free event called SAMPLE which is celebrating the start Spring showcasing fresh produce and modern craftsmanship with workshops and even an experimental perfume club! All these little marquees were preparing for the weekend ahead… I was also treated to cocktails and a really wonderful dinner at Craft, the restaurant directly opposite the gallery… The views are absolutely fantastic and it manages to be spacious and cosy at the same time… The restaurant is beautiful and the food, a lot of it locally sourced, is absolutely amazing! It was such a treat to visit a new area of London, let the afternoon bleed into the evening watching the sun go down over the city and wake up inspired.You can view my Steller Story version of this post, which includes video of the trip HERE
Each year at my Artist’s Open House in Brighton I create an installation in my shed/studio…themes over the years have included Shipwrecks, Pioneer’s Cabin, Nesting, Frozen in Time and the White Shed.
Earlier this year when I was working on the #myStJames project I visited Floris in Jermyn St, London; the oldest perfumers in the country, and I was absolutely fascinated with how a perfumer almost seems to paint with scent. ( you can read an earlier post about it here )
It made me become incredibly preoccupied with scents and memories which is why I decided I wanted to crete a space where people could almost smell their past and to ‘dress’ the shed with a feeling of nostalgia and personal history; something smell and scent gives immediate access to.
When I told Floris what I was going to do they kindly provided me with lots of scent samples which I was then able to subtly place within drawers, boxes, tins, jars and even a couple of handbags and a book; sometimes on their own and sometimes combined with other elements…I was also so chuffed when Susan Beech from A Petal Unfolds agreed to let me include some of her incredible paper flowers and Cable and Cotton gave me extra lights for the ceiling.
Also as a synaesthetic artist I often paint smell ( and taste ) and so also included within the installation some paintings which depict scent. When I was little my mum put a scented sheet of purple paper into a drawer in the spare room…I used to go in on a rainy day just to open it and take in that smell.
I can still recall it; not in a very tangible way, but more like recalling a dream; one of those you never forget…
As an abstract painter I enjoy emotional responses rather than representative, and was completely taken by surprise when I found myself weeping at the scent of ‘Iris’ having emotionally revisited one of the happiest times and places of my life 30 years ago, for a matter of seconds.( the handbag above contains ‘ Madonna of the Almonds’ by Floris as well as a dusting of talc, the small top box contains ‘ 1962’ scent by Floris and the glass jar contains ‘Lily of the Valley’ by Floris )
( the binoculars case below contains Scent ‘No. 127’ by Floris, blended in the 1800’s. It’s one of my favourites because it is like directly smelling history ) ( drawer above contains ‘Palm Springs’ scent by Floris ) ( drawer above contains ‘Cerifo’ scent by Floris ) ( drawer above contains ‘Edwardian Bouquet’ scent by Floris ) ( drawer above contains ‘Honey Oud’ scent by Floris ) ( bag above contains ‘Mahon Leather’ scent by Floris ) ( above is some of my mother’s old cream from the 1970’s and a box with pencil shavings inside ) ( drawer above contains ‘1988’ scent by Floris ) ( lilies and a painting of their scent behind )There are 75 smells in the shed which you can experience in boxes, jars and drawers ( anything containing a smell has a little round sticker on unless it’s a plant ).
You can pick and choose and let the smells take you back to places you’d forgotten or never even thought about.
The identity of the smell itself shouldn’t be important; it’s where it takes you in your memory which should be savoured.
So far people have had some incredible responses and everyone has come out telling me stories of smells from their childhood or past…some of my favorites so far have been:
‘I’ve just smelt a ghost’
‘That smells like an old lady’s chair’
‘Oh my God, that’s the school soap!’
‘I’ve just visited my Grandpa’s front room’
( tin above contains ‘White Rose’ scent by Floris )( incredible hand made paper flowers inside a drawer with the scent of Floris’s ‘Edwardian Bouquet’ from A Petal Unfolds )
I’ve also included some smells which are not so nice…not many, but I wanted people to experience a range, so if you visit, beware of this tin…it contains asafoetida!!There’s nothing quite like opening a drawer or a box which not only has some interesting bits and pieces inside but which also has a specific scent…I have absolutely loved putting this installation together and I think it is only the start of a new phase for me of working artistically with smell!You can visit the Open House and experience The Scented Shed, in Brighton during the last 3 weekends of November 11am – 5pm, and you can follow the accounts @64sandgate on Instagram and Facebook for more details
This is a catch up of 2 weeks as I didn’t manage to share them last week…
See the Steller Story version here
this is one of my Shelter paintings inspired by my visit to the Calais Jungle…if you feel you can donate something to The Worldwide Tribe, you can via their donating page here, or if you wanted to buy one of these paintings 50% of the proceeds go to The Worldwide Tribe and you can see/buy them here
You can see the Steller Stories app version here