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16: Two Canterbury Smells

LITERAL : Summer Fruit
The scent from Canterbury’s greengrocers extends into the street as warm summer temperatures help volatilise the aromas of locally grown red fruits. Local farms produce juicy red strawberries whose smell combines with other seasonal crops. Individual scents perceived outdoors combine inside to form a unique “interior greengrocers’ shop” fragrance. The characteristic aroma of a strawberry is the result of about a dozen different aroma compounds. A ripe strawberry’s smell, at 50 milligrams per kilo, lies far above the perceptible odour threshold value in air. The installation includes the classic summer fruit of Kent as a natural, local scent.
Lyrical : history
A city resident exclaimed “Canterbury smells of history!” Globally, place-specific cultural histories have very different aroma associations depending on local foods, customs and rituals. Here, with materials collected in local churches and sites of pilgrim resting places we extracted and created an abstract scent of the city. Tar-coated wood, an old printed text, incense, candles and prayer cushions together form our interpretation of the “history” of Canterbury. The installation includes a complex composite natural, local scent.

All scents presented here were made from local produce. Familiar perfumery techniques such as enfleurage, soxhlet extraction and steam distillation were hacked to capture the smell molecules to preserve and record a micocosm of Canterbury’s smell legacy of the summer of 2014.

I am developing the use of smell sketching as a means to facilitate exploratory and explanatory conversations about individual perception of smell. Smell sketches appear as icons in the smellsketchmap aspect of the installation.

Physical Visualisation / Smell Dispersal
“Two Canterbury Smells” scents are dispersed for shared interpretation in two ways; visible traditional perfume bottles and hidden ultrasonic wave cold-air diffusers. The vapour from the diffusers renders scents as physical, temporal objects for sniffing, catching and wafting.

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Date: 2014
Media & size: Installation with map and diffused scents

2014 – The Beaney (House of Art & Knowledge) 18 High Street, Canterbury