A scents of history
As well as exploring the history of perfume. Heavenly Scent offers you a chance to sample some bizarre olfactory delights. Ann Donald goes nosing around.
‘Behind each fragrance. each aura. every bottle. the captivating. magical expression of a scent tells of life. of Mankind. of the world.‘
One would never instinctively associate the cheap dab of Duty-Free eau de toilette w ith the poetic flourish expressed above. Yet Gerard Delcour. President of the grandiose French Perfume Committee. obviously believes every tineg Baudelarian syllable. And it is with the hyperbolic words of l)elcour still ringing in my ears that the heady waft of a thousand perfumes vies for olfactory attention as I enter the Heavenly See/ti exhibition.
This has got to be one of the most sensual exhibitions ey cr to have graced the Presbyterian environs of the liuuterian Gallery. All five senses are primed and satiatcd ev en after 30 minutes perusal as the visitor encounters all celebrated aspects of La Parfum. From the history of Egyptian oils to state-of—the-art Dior mass manufacturing and from the scientific analysis of the olfactory system to the perfumer‘s exquisite nose. the perfume business is laid bare in graphic detail. Particularly intriguing is the visually
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Heavenly Scent: ‘the perfume business is laid bare in graphic detail'
enticing collection of perfume containers that span the centuries. from delicate fig} ptian kohl iars to Nikki de St l’hail‘s‘ customised glass wonder.
liy en for those not remotely interested
; in the intriguing historical aspects of
the perfume world. the exhibition can be taken purely on a 'touchy-feel’ basis. A huge pick 'n‘ mix table containing the raw materials of perfume invites the visitor to grab a handful of such ‘exotic‘ basics as moss. incense gum. mint and camomile.
before discovering how they actually
'under your nostrils. Thus, the
metamorphasise into expensive Guerlain. Coty and Dior creations. However. the interactive computers are the real show-stoppers. Step into one of the small booths and access one ofa number of ‘defunct‘ perfume titles that appear on screen. Not only does a brief history of said perfume suddenly appear but a tiny mechanism scooshes a sample ofthis choice ‘defunct‘ perfume
downright stinky 14th century Eau de la Reine de Hungrie suddenly elicits a repulsed wn'nkly nose. while Coty‘s l905 Ambre Antique is marked by a sweet and sticky smell.
The vital importance of an and advertising is also recognised with a revealing and well-researched look at the 20th century perfume houses commercial ploys. Again an interactive computer allows access to classic perfume ads from the early 70s right up to the present day. all categorised in a surreal fashion by titles like ‘magic'. ‘graphic' and ‘unreal emotion'.
liven those lavender-wearing stalwarts who are immune to the advertisers blurbs boasting a perfume‘s effervescent. ethereal. diaphanous or radiant qualities would succumb to this exhibition.
Heavenly Scent is at the Hunterian Art Gallery. Glasgow until 23 June.
mum- An Edinburgh palette
Black Madonna by Paul Fumeaux: silkscreen print with woodcut effect
Three young Scottish painters on show at the recently opened Firth Gallery (previously Flying Colours), have enough ambition and enthusiasm to see them into the next millennium, despite a certain amount of cynicism about the pros and cons of being a struggling artist in Edinburgh.
John Brown’s paintings are an exotic soup of cluttered images directly inspired by the everyday sights of the Edinburgh landscape. He wanders around town making sketches and returns to his studio flat to create his own quirky impression of the city from acrylic paint and mixed media. ‘Edinburgh is great because it’s so condensed. I never know how I’m going to use the information I collect and sometimes an image will hang around for years until I put it in a painting.’ Winter trees, twinkling stars, the soft glow from street lamps and tiny figures crowd his dark paintings in the form of loose repeat
patterns. The oval shape which
encases his designs is an attempt to get away from the horizontal view and
f has a similar effect to looking up ' through the domed glass roofs of
Paul Furneaux is still recovering from. the shock of the Scottish climate after
, returning from the heat of Mexico
where he had a successful solo exhibition. Despite not receiving any financial aid from his home country Paul was overwhelmed by the encouragement and enthusiasm of the Mexican people. His shoestring budget meant he entered into a skill bartering system where he swapped workshops and English lessons in exchange for the posters, photographs and wine for his private view. His latest paintings were triggered by his strongest memories of intense heat, clear light and the diverse images of a country that is instantly visually stimulating. Whitewashed churches, donkeys,
, gesso surface creating a translucent
Madonnas and the vibrant colours of religious festivals vie with the modern dirt and noise of Mexico city in arrangements that are deiicately drawn and sparingly painted. ‘Mexicans believe in magic, they don’t need visible proof of things, there’s a sense of other worldliness. It’s a rich ground for artists but I reached saturation point and started longing for a Scottish hillside.’
Alan Kilpatrick’s small, jewel-like watercolour paintings are a mix of odd shapes and symbols culled from the invented narrative language he uses to describe mountains and religious shrines set in the foothills of Asia. Being born in India to Scottish parents and having completed his art education in london Alan feels somewhat of an outsider in Edinburui. ‘There’s definitely a closed shop mentality here. Certain doors are closed to you, if you haven’t been to a Scottish art school it’s difficult to get teaching work.’ But Alan is equally quick to appreciate the fact that he has had more opportunities to make and show work here than london. His larger combined acrylic and oil paintings are of the Scottish landscape and obviously influenced by Rothko and Klee. After walking the enormous flat moorlands and peat bogs of Gloncoe he uses a reduced palette and smears paint across a
light in his abstracted landscapes and sky paintings which have all signs of human habitation removed. An impressive large coastal painting shows the build up of layers more clearly and a broad band of luxurious gold paint glitters beneath the surface, a clear indicator of the Asian influence in his work. (Gill Both)
The opening show at The Firth Gallery, 35 William Street, Edinburgh until 1 July.
The List Z-lS Jun I995 59