JUS perfume interview
Your name – KATE TEMPLE
Your work – ARTIST & DESIGNER
- What first attracted you to the world of perfume / scent / fragrance?
Making installations and theatre environments, I guess I’m always thinking about the ‘whole’ sensory experience – what does it look like, sound like, feel like, taste like, smell like. What does snow sound like? What does red smell like?
- What perfume would you rescue from your collection if an evil perfume tax collector came round and said he was going to take every scent but one?
The smell of art school studios; that delicious, heady mix of turpentine, oil paint, plaster and art students. I think it’s the reason I went in the first place.
- If you won the lottery, what would be the first perfume in your shopping bag?
The ingredients to cook an extravagant and beautiful feast. I think one should always cook with one’s eyes and one’s nose. Georges Perec writes of a black banquet served on plates of polished slate in Life: A User’s Manual: Caviar, Squid Tarragon style, Saddle of baby Cumberland boar, Truffle salad and Blueberry cheesecake. Decadent and fabulous.
- If you could only wear one scent for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Pears soap and water.
- What is a smell, or combination of smells, you wish was a perfume that you’ve never come across in any bottle before?
Cloves, Skin, Wool, Babies, Lemons, Snow, Sea, Books, Rain and Geraniums.
- Can you describe a moment of passion or poignancy in your life linked to a scent?
As a child, my mother leaning over me all scented and perfumed to say goodnight before going out – knowing that was what the adult world smelled like and content not to know any more.
- What is your earliest memory of perfume?
The smell of my great-grandmother’s bedroom: all face powder in jars and pale green glass and mother of pearl hand mirrors and shiny ivory bedcovers.
- Is there a perfume you wore in the past that you no longer wear, and why?
Body Shop White Musk: Gross ! ! ! But boy does it take me back.
- Is there a particular figure or house in the world of perfume that you admire, and why?
- Is there any art (literature, poetry, theatre, visual art, music, etc) that you have experienced that uses scent in a provocative or beautiful way? If not, can you think of an idea for scent in art?
Smells evoke memories, they bring the past back in a shadowy, ghostly form. They bring with them a sweet pain, and a sense of loss for what has gone. I’ve always loved this passage from Doris Lessing’s The Golden Notebook; it makes me feel sad, in a good way.
I remember the smell of the wine, cool and sharp, as Ted tilted another bottle to refill the glass, and the wine splashed over and hissed on the dust. The dust smelled heavy and sweet, as if it had rained.
Also, I remember going into Cildo Meireles’ installation Volatile made from talcum powder, candle and gas scent. Beautiful and frightening.
Image above by Kate Temple from installation called from crystal into smoke.