"Smell seems to be the sense of singularity. Forms reappear, invariant or recurrent, harmonies are transformed, stable across variations, specificity is countersigned by aroma. With our eyes closed, our ears stopped, feet and hands bound, lips sealed, we can still identify, years later and from a thousand other smells, the undergrowth of such and such a place in a particular season at sunset, just before a rain storm, or the room where feed corn was kept, or cooked prunes in September, or a woman." Philosopher Michel Serres, The Five Senses
I have always desired a life of bohemian ambience and find myself immersing in this aesthetic more and more. The garden surrounding the house where I live is overflowing with heritage roses, herbs, wisteria, iris and blossoming fruit trees. I have fallen in love with essential oils and have discovered an innate sense of knowing how to blend these into a soy candle. Essential oils each have a unique texture and shape and are forever essences that we have always known. This garden where I live is a natural extension of a way of living and making. All at once I am so grateful for my nose!
On a molecular level scent touches our nerves and instantly brings a cascade of memories to the fore. Scent appears to be pervasive and yet everywhere all at once. It is the ubiquitous nature of scent that makes it so powerful. How does perfume get into flowers, and how magical it is that smell invites us to go on a journey.
How to smell... close your eyes and, instead of thinking if you like or dislike, focus on the natural aroma and experience the aromatic sensation. Your instincts will transport you to a place, a memory and perhaps consider if it were a colour, what would it be? Odours live in different parts of plants, such as blossoms (rose, ylang-ylang), bark (cinnamon), roots (ginger), seeds (juniper, cardamom, nutmeg, coriander), rind (lemon, orange, lime, grapefruit), leaves (rosemary, thyme, bay) and it is pure delight to wander through a garden containing many of these to discover and think. After all, smell was the first of our senses with our cerebral hemispheres originating from the olfactory stalks. Smell helps us all to relax, imagine, energise and focus at different times of our lives. Scent immersed in scented candles bring illumination, comfort and a vessel to carry scent to our nose which is central to our sense of smell. Scent is a portal to the familiar, to memories, to the beautiful, the strange and provoking, and to the transcendent.
Smoke Cloud, 2014, Peter de Cupere
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