Scent Event

I so wish I could go to this! The Art of Scent

A few events seem to have tickets left so if you’re in the area, do go…


I’m gutted to realise that I meant to post this at the beginning of July and forgot to, so please have a look now at what these amazing folks are up to, and keep an eye out for future events (which hopefully I’ll manage to post in time!).

7 Through the Nose by Josely Carvalho

“7 Through the Nose” will expand upon Josely Carvalho’s longstanding work with the olfactory. Participants will explore their own senses of smell and its powerful relationship to memory and emotion. Starting in Times Square and sniffing through Flushing, the group will identify synthetic smells (i.e. smells created to entice sales: such as french fries and store-specific fragrances) and existing natural urban smells, (i.e.sweat, herbs, fish, bread and urine). Via memory, metaphor and association, Josely will work with each participant to record smells in individual and collective scent journals; an evanescent geography of odors.

Each walk holds 12 people and will begin in Times Square and end around the Flushing-Main Street subway stop.

Date / Time: Tue, Jul 10, 2012, 6:30pm

Thu, Jul 12, 2012, 6:30pm

Sat, Jul 14, 2012, 4:00pm

Starting Point: 40th Street and 7th Avenue, New York, NY

Duration: 2 hours

Exciting news…  my friend Ali is teaming up with me to (fingers and toes crossed) bring you the JUS Scent Art Festival in Edinburgh, February 2013.  We’re currently working on many bits and pieces (like trying to get some funding) in order to get this off the ground, but I will keep you updated as hopefully it will happen and you will be able to come check it out!

If all goes well, we’ll have a perfume trade fair, tons of art installations and performances based on or inspired by scent, master classes, panel discussions and a poetry reading.  If you have any good suggestions for sources of funding, sponsorship or want to get involved in some way, do get in touch.

Yesterday we purchased a domain name for the festival’s website, so as soon as that’s up and running I will post it.

Super scent fun!


July 2012 Note:  The Scent Festival is on hold at the moment, but we have high hopes for the future…  if you have any good ideas about scent events or how to help make the festival come to life, do get in touch!


Recently at the Traverse Theatre where I work there was a show on called ‘The Salon Project’.  A remarkable company by the name of Untitled Projects recreated a Proustian-style salon in our largest space, complete with chandeliers and huge mirrors, and dressed the entire audience of 60+ people each night in full period costume.  What a dream!  The audience was treated to a series of provocations throughout the evening, but the real show was the audience itself – dressed, powdered, flowered, bedecked, and made to see itself and to interact in a new/old way.

When I attended, I had the pleasure of smelling Stewart Laing, the genius director/designer behind the Salon.  It was my first whiff of Mitsouko – a fragrance I’ve read so much about but had yet to smell in real life, if you could call a recreation of a 19th century salon real life.  Stewart smelled magnificent.  You can see him in the photo above – he looked magnificent as well.  He’s the one with the red beard and dashing mustachio.  When I think back on it, I can remember the strange, enchanting mix of sweet peaches and moss, flowers and musk… the sparkling lights, the soprano and the pianist’s delicate fingers on ivory keys.

Mitsouko on Basenotes

Mitsouko on MakeupAlley

I wrote this poem as part of a project for Lush’s new Gorilla Perfumes.  It was quite wonderful as Ericka Duffy, an officially titled ‘Top Banana’ at Gorilla or, as we like to call her, Goddess of Scent, sent myself and my friend the amazing poet and more Elspeth Murray each a box of perfumes from the new line to smell, wear, be inspired by and write poems about.  We then got to share what we’d written on Radio Scotland and at the splendid Scottish Poetry Library, at a joyous, perfume-filled scent event/poetry reading.  Have a look at my poetry website,, for a link to a recording of the radio programme where you can hear a couple of the poems being read, including this one.

for EM

I smell her first,
and this is what I see:
a still life with a copper bowl of bergamot,
a wooden bowl of shiny apples, a pile of cloves.
And then there is her silver hair in the wind,
her leather boots,
her red cape smelling of wool and rain;
bitter, rich and sweet,
and this is her, coming from weather
to the fire in the library,
the spines of leather books whispering
her, her, as if it’s Christmas and she’s arrived
to take them down from their shelves, and rub them,
and read them to children sliding cloves into orange peel.

I smell her first, then I see her, then I see her again
as she will be someday, in a memory
that doesn’t even exist.

JL Williams   2011

Photos (c) Chris Scott   2011

Poem submissions welcome – I’d like to start up a publishing stream of scent-inspired poems and flash fictions so do send them in to