On my recent visit to Philippa Stanton’s Scented Shed I was reminded of how evocative smells can be, how they instantly take you to a person, a different time, and often a strong emotion.
In Philippa’s shed there was an old fashioned white leather hand bag with a golden metal clasp, I opened it, and was immediately transported to the smell of my English grandmother (Leather, Lilly of the Valley & quintessentially Talcum powder). Lavender, 4711 Kölnisch Wasser, and oddly, White Chocolate, would have been the smell for my German grandmother. The smell of the inside of the bag, together with the sound of the clasp brought tears to my eyes, as I hadn’t felt so close to her since she died in 2012.
I spent about 20 minutes opening boxes and smelling things, completely focusing on the olfactory experience; there were over 70 different scents to discover!
When I stepped out, I took a deep breath and continued sniffing, and the world was a Paradise of Smells. Even the less pleasant ones, (within reason!) became interesting for the characteristics & associations they carried.
Since that visit, I have become much more aware of those qualities of stuff that surrounds me: Pencil shavings, shoe polish, jar of old nails,… and amuse myself thinking about my own little installation of smells.