As I haven’t created any ‘Weekly Snaps’ posts for ages, I should just say that they are almost entirely written in images; I always find wandering about, looking at things and finding stuff that matches up far more satisfying and expressive than words… The next few photos are from the brilliant new David Adjaye exhibition: Making Memory which opened at The Design Museum last weekend….you can find all the details HERE
It was a crazy few weeks before the New Year; I was planning and organising loads of stuff around my book launch, running workshops, sending out calendars and hosting my Artist’s Open House. It was full on to say the least, but kind of exciting at the same time. I was probably a bit too hyper to be honest, but I was enjoying a big old creative flow. However that basically resulted in major Christmas flu; spending hours in bed, coughing like an old fashioned smoker and just completely crashing for the first part of January. I had all sorts of things I was going to do as soon as Christmas was over; sort my photos, sort my emails, sort my house, fix the cooker etc, etc. But I found it SO difficult to rally any sense of urgency, any sense of practicality and any sense of getting on with things. It’s only been in the last couple of weeks that I’ve felt much better and now I’ve got creative things I’m desperate to do, but which I have no time to do, pouring into my mind and waking me up at 3am! One of the major ‘jobs’ I’ve had to address is that of new workshop dates…I think I sort of wanted all the information to just appear in people’s heads without me having to do anything. I lose hours working on the aesthetics of putting an Instagram story together for example; I absolutely love doing it, but the reality is that it always takes way longer than the half hour I hoped it would. I also think, as I’ve hit an Instagram Stories note, that they are in part responsible for me not keeping up with my blog consistently: they are so quick and easy and reach so many more people that it leaves blogging feeling clunky and not as satisfying as an instant response to my surroundings…Anyway, here I am, nearly at the end of January, just about catching up, or at least with all the workshop info and booking details ready to go. So this post is going to be a combination of January things; colours textures and general observations as well as a pointer to my next online course.
There are still various things I need to really catch up on: the next big job is getting some of my paintings listed in my online shop ( something I’ve been promising since September! ) and getting back into making some clothes again! If you haven’t already seen, my inner clothing imp seems to have been unleashed, and the stories of my handmade and thrifted clothes are shaking up my feed on Instagram! …and my old ‘Weekly Snaps’ posts are something I need to get back into too…as my Grandpa used to say: “We’ll see what we shall see…” And just another reminder about the online course and with more details in my shop here
Last night That Boutique-y Gin Company launched their amazing new range of olfactory gins. To coincide with the launch, they had asked me to work on a special art project for them using my synaesthesia.
They wanted me to smell the aromas of the new olfactory range they’ve been working on with perfume expert Lizzie Ostram, aka Odette Toilette and then paint my responses to them so that they would have some visual abstract references and which they also then made into a gift box for the launch. I had been told that the best way to sample these gins was in a goblet shaped glass as it would release the aromas more efficiently, and as it is the actual aromas of these gins which is their main focus this was an important factor to bear in mind. To taste the gins as effectively and specifically as possible, I was to add a teaspoon of water, rather than any tonic…
Because I didn’t want to be in any way influenced, either consciously or subconsciously, by any of the gin names, I decided to number them myself and keep the name label hidden on the other side of the sample bottles…
The scents of these gins are really mind blowing…I’ve always loved the smell of gin to be honest; taking sneaky whiffs from my mum’s glass before I was old enough to drink it, and apart from an accidental Pimms encounter at a family friend’s garden party when I was about 11, I think a gin and tonic may well have been my first sophisticated drink, however my mum’s G and T’s never ever smelled like these!
Spending time consciously taking in the scent of a drink can so often be overlooked, which is why I love the fact that these Boutiquey Gins are actually encouraging people to connect not only to their senses, but also to those familiar, happy experiences in our memories, rather than just plain gin drinking.
Utilising my synaesthesia, I took time to smell each gin individually, and make intuitive sketches of my visual abstract responses, using water colours, acrylics, pastels and pencils.
The interesting thing for me was that there was a real continuity of lightness, almost like a certain pitch in music, which appeared to be the fundamental gin flavour itself, but which then became punctuated by colour, shape and texture with each individual gin aroma I experienced. The tastes of the gins were much more delicate than I’m used to and I was surprised by how much I enjoyed the tastes with just a tiny drop of water added; something I had never tried before.
But it is the aromas of these Boutiquey Gins which is unlike anything else I’ve experienced with gin…they are perfumed in such a beautiful and delicately complex way that they entice you to go on an exciting scented journey, spending more time smelling them than you ever usually would and they transport you to a very different and pleasant sensory state, even before the alcohol hits your palette. I would be seriously happy to have gin smelling sessions with these gins even if I didn’t drink!
Very occasionally I suddenly smell a scent from my past, for no particular reason, and often it’s like experiencing some sort of pleasant ghost; a ghost which says ‘Hey, remember how happy and carefree you were when you smelled this?’ or ‘Yes, you do still remember the perfume your Granny wore when she hugged you’. Last week I experienced just that with one of these gins. It wafted into my scent memory as I absentmindedly picked up a pile of post one morning; a sudden and wonderful reminder of how much I’d enjoyed the scent of Bottle No 1…I went back to it and treated myself to a furtive sniff before breakfast.
I won’t attempt to explain in words the aromas and tastes, because I much prefer to use paint to illustrate the experiences, so below are some of my sketches and some images of my process followed by a couple of pictures with some of the goodies from the That Boutique-y Gin Company launch event last night, included their amazing 10 ml gin rollers which came in the box made from my ‘Big Dipper’ painting. All the gins had this sort of shape ( above ) when hitting the back of my nose…
‘BEWARE OF THE WOODS’
‘FRESH RAIN’And here are some of the unique gin fragrance pens made especially for the launch along with my box!For more information about these olfactory gins visit the Boutique-y Gin Company website here You can also follow them on Instagram here @boutiqueygin as well as Odette Toilette at @odettetoilette
When I began writing Chapter 7 of my book ‘The Senses and Synaesthesia’, I hadn’t realised that it would become the heart of what I wanted ‘Conscious Creativity’ to be about. I realised how passionate I was about getting people to connect to their senses and how acknowledging even the most everyday scents and sounds is crucial to developing personal creativity . I started to imagine what my book would smell like, the pages and the print, and then I suddenly realised that I actually wanted to create a scent that I felt represented the book itself.
I met Emmanuelle from The Experimental Perfume Club last year during the ‘Perfume’ exhibition at Somerset House ( there’s a post about it here ), and I asked if I could come to one of her Open Lab days in Hackney so that I could blend a ‘Conscious Creativity’ scent. Open Lab means you can spend time exploring and experimenting with the vast perfume organ in Emmanuelle’s workshop and create a unique scent of your own. One couple who were there when I was, were blending a scent for their wedding day and another for their honeymoon! It was a truly amazing and utterly absorbing afternoon and I could have stayed for hours…I experimented with mixing scents rather like I mix paint on a palette, the only difference being I had to look at the scents in my mind’s eye. Time lost significance at The Experimental Perfume Club and I was drawn into a visual and scented space inside my head, which in turn led me to creating an abstract image of the scent I blended with many essential oils including Birch Tar, Coffee and Eucalyptus.
So now ‘Conscious Creativity’ the book, has a corresponding scent and painting. I wanted the scent to be open and fresh, include a hint of citrus and have a strong woody note to echo my constant Instagram companion, the table. This is my visual journey of my inspirations, texture references and experiments which then became a painting of the scent of ‘Conscious Creativity’…
sketches and texture inspiration… Paintings often start off completely different to what the final piece actually looks like…I started with multi coloured layers so that I would be able to scrape back to reveal hints as I went on… You can order my book ‘Conscious Creativity’ here and please do email me if you would like any more information about my paintings. If you would like more information about The Experimental Perfume Club, you can follow them on Instagram and also look on their website where you’ll find more about their workshops, Open Lab days and fabulous new perfume collection ‘Layers’ ( which I am wearing constantly at the moment! )
So, I will be running a Full Day creative workshop on Sept 8th on The Isle of Wight as part of the creative retreat which has been organised by Laura at From Britain with Love.
It’s for a small group of people and looks like such a relaxing but also really creatively stimulating weekend in very unique accomodation by Tiny Homes.
My workshop day will be exploring some of the elements which will appear in my new book Conscious Creativity which comes out in November ( but which you can pre order here ).
I’ll be exploring how to use use your instinct, intuition and whatever is around you to help discover ideas and notice details and we’ll be looking at:
COLOUR TEXTURE and WABI SABI COMPOSITION and MOBILE EDITING TIPS …and in the afternoon we’ll be going on a sensory woodland walk to connect to everything right in front of us and under our noses and how inspiring that can be.
There are loads more details on the From Britain With Love website here, which is also where you can book your place.
Last month, during the coldest late winter the UK had experienced in years, I was flown out to a very hot Jamaica for basically that dream job.
I had partnered with TUI Sensatori, along with Perfumer Dawn Goldworm and Professor Charles Spence, to be one of their ’Sensatorialists’, staying at one of their five-star luxury resorts in Negril, Jamaica and had been asked to interpret my sensory experience by creating 3 abstract paintings utilising my synaesthesia. I was asked to bring to life on canvas, the sounds, tastes and smells of the most memorable sensory elements I experienced whilst I was there.
Synaesthesia is a merging of the senses and when experiencing sounds, tastes or smells the brain stimulates corresponding abstract visuals. I’ve been using these visuals to create paintings for about 15 years and as I had never been to Jamaica before, let alone painted there, I was incredibly excited.
Making the time to simply connect to my senses can often feel like a luxury. Life can be filled with train journeys, headphones and staring at the computer, but if we regularly connect to our senses and consciously exercise them, it’s obvious that when we relax on holiday we are much more open to their effect and the heightened experience and pleasure they bring.
Scientific research has shown that actually drawing things on holiday, rather than just taking photos or videos, is a massively effective way of reminiscing. Therefore TUI Sensatori are on a mission to help people capture and prolong their holiday memories by getting in touch with their senses and encouraging people to sketch and make a record of their holiday in a more unique and visual way.
I personally think everyone has synaesthetic tendencies but it’s whether or not you want to or are even able to find the place in your head where the images are. Babies must gather information in a very abstract way because they can’t read and they don’t have words but as adults it is absolutely a sliding scale; some people suddenly realise that they have always thought of the taste of lemons as spikey, others just don’t connect the taste to anything remotely visual.
So this is a blog post charting my personal experience whilst I was staying at TUI Sensatori in Negril, and showing you the paintings I created for TUI whilst I was over there. And although I obviously did take lots of photos, I also spent hours painting on the beach which I can’t tell you how much I enjoyed…
Apparently there’s a lot of digitally induced holiday amnesia going on at the moment and as a big Instagram user myself I personally know how full on it can be, but my time with TUI in Jamaica genuinely took me into another, much more relaxed zone.
( I also got some of the press who came out with us, to paint on the beach ) And when I got back home I spent a bit more time getting the paintings finished, which brought the whole experience directly back to Brighton…
Whilst I was out there TUI also made a mini film about my experiences which you can watch HERE…and there is also a quiz put together by Professor Charles Spence to see how connected you are to your senses and whether you have synaesthesia or not which you can try HEREWhenever I’ll think back to the resort in Negril, it will be recalling the sound of the gentle waves lapping on the beach at sunset, the barbecue smoke aroma on the beach with the taste of spicy jerk sauce ( something I had never tried before ) and the gentle citrus scent in their Spa…oh yes, and the fact that I walked off the plane in Miami right behind David Beckham!!
( lovely breakfast with Bulova watches ) The new Paper Aviary in St James’ Market, London An Edward Hopper postcard from the new exhibition After The Fall at The RA in London This mug is in support of The Human Rights Campaign…you can buy one on line here You can see the Steller Story version of this post here
You can see my Steller version HERE