Report from the 5th Art and Olfaction Awards, London


26th April, 2018


Winners, judges, finalists and organisers of the awards
It isn’t every day you get to see some of the world’s most revered artistic perfumers gathered together in one room – perhaps even less frequent to witness them, later, huddled beneath the awning of a Tex-Mex bar eating chips from a bucket – but such was the scene of this year’s Art and Olfaction Awards as they celebrated their 5th year. This time the location chosen for the annual scent shebang was London, and their focus, as ever, was ‘to raise interest and awareness for independent perfumers, artisan perfumers, and experimental practitioners with scent on an international scale. By shining a spotlight on perfumery’s most outstanding creators, we hope to help generate support for independent practices in perfumery as a whole.’ Organised by Saskia Wilson-Brown, Founder & Executive Director of The Institute for Art and Olfaction, with a team of helpers, the event was the finale of a full-on week that had already included an Experimental Scent Summit, organised by the IAO with artist Klara Ravat: ‘two days of informal talks, round-table discussions and workshops relating to experimental practices with scent,’ and by golly, London can rarely have smelled so sweet.


Saskia Wilson-Brown, founder of the IAO alongside emcee for the evening, Miguel Matos

The fragrant crowds gathered for the awards presentation in Notting Hill at The Tabernacle – an extraordinary, curved redbrick building built (as a church) in 1887, which now serves as a community and arts centre – the location sourced with help from 4160 Tuesdays perfumer Sarah McCartney, and artist Sarah Baker. Having hastily quaffed the bubbles and squealed in delight at catching up with fragrant friends from around the world, it was time to head upstairs to the vaulted auditorium, where red velvet seats, floral banners and an air of nervous expectation awaited. The finalists had been announced at Milan’s Esxence on April 5th, leaving those nominees to chew their fingers to the bone as the weeks ticked by until this very moment. Miguel Matos, perfume writer and collector, took to the stage as MC, noting that really it was a family reunion of kinds, because “perfume people have a shared love… and we are all a bit strange!” I couldn’t possibly comment on that, of course, so without further faffing, let’s get to the meat in this sandwich: the award winners themselves…

 

Artisan Category Winners:

Chienoir by BedeauX

Perfumer: Amanda Beadle

Incredibly, BedeauX’s first fragrance, Chienoir was created to evoke ‘a fresh vibrant perfume reflecting the landscape of the vineyard , a spectrum of green vines, white flowers and the deep, chalky earth of the South Downs.’


Amanda Beadle (BedeauX)

Club Design by The Zoo

Perfumer: Christophe Laudamiel

A fragrance capturing the smoked leather/lily sensuality of a club, Miguel wryly noted his metallic bronze trousers were now only the second most flamboyant pair of pants in the room, thanks to the spangled legs of Laudamiel.

 


Denyse Beaulieu (Grain de Musc) and Christophe Laudemiel (The Zoo)

 

Independent Category Winners:

Eau de Virginie by Au Pays de la Fleur d'Oranger

Perfumer: Jean-Claude Gigodot

Creative Director: Virginie Roux

Dedicated to Virginie's grandmother, a woman of post-war emancipation, “and for the spirit of free women everywhere,” this perfume weaves incense, rose, leather, sandalwood and musk in subtly complex patterns.


Virginie Roux (Au Pays de la Fleur d'Oranger) and Dominique Brunel (NEZ Magazine)

Nuit de Bakélite by Naomi Goodsir

Perfumer: Isabelle Doyen

Creative Director: Naomi Goodsir, Renaud Coutaudier

An alluring, otherworldly and intensely green portrait of tuberose, the narcotic choir of white flowers is backed by angelica, artemisia, ylang-ylang, karo karounde, carrot seeds, cardamom, leather and styrax.


Renaud Coutaudier, Isabelle Doyen and Naomi Goodsir

Sadakichi Award Winner:

Under the Horizon by Oswaldo Macia

Perfume: Ricardo Moya (IFF)

The olfactory-acoustic sculpture was created to give people ‘ a space for thought,’ and Macia (who excitedly Samba-danced his way onto stage) says his work “uses the scent of smell to make people stop and think in order to raise questions in new ways.”

 


Oswaldo Macia

 

Aftel Award for Handmade Perfume:

Pays Dogon by Monsillage (Canada)

Perfumer: Isabelle Michaud

A new award created in which to recognise the creativity of perfumers who have a hand in every single stage of a fragrance’s creation, this was inspired by Mali’s Sahelian plains, the landscape of the Dogon people, with a peppered greenness, ginger, hibiscus, guaiac wood, vetiver and date conjuring texture, heat and vast landscapes.

 

 


Isabelle Michaud (Monsillage) and the arm of Antonio Gardoni (Bogue)

 

Contribution to Scent Culture:

Peter de Cupere (Belgium)

Recognising the outstanding achievement of the artist’s work so far, de Cupre explores means of social and environmental engagement through smell, and the IAO commented on his most recent work, Smoke Flowers: “Moved by the abusive impact that modern industry and contemporary lifestyles have on nature's purity, the artist has managed to conjure real flowers to regurgitate the fumes of industrial pollution”.


Peter de Cupere

 

Each winner received the prestigious Golden Pear Award for their work, and one of the judges, fragrance writer Denyse Beaulieu, commented how intensely difficult the judging process had been, urging those nominees who’d not won – indeed those who’d not made the shortlist this year – not to be too disappointed, “and please, please to enter again next year!” because it was such a close-run (one might almost say ‘a win by a nose’) competition, and all the judges were overwhelmed with the creativity, diversity and quality of the entries. The next city to host the Art and Olfaction Awards, for 2019, was also announced; so get those tulips ready, Amsterdam, for we can’t wait to see you there.

And so, as the Golden Pears had been united with their new owners, our thoughts turned to the after-party. Having been given an intriguing password to whisper at the door of the stated location, perfumers, artists, press and bloggers wended their way through the streets of London, only to discover two (somewhat surly) security guards seemed intent on scuppering the partygoer’s plans. It wasn’t so much ‘you can’t come in, your name’s not on the list’, as ‘there are too many of you, so you’ll need to queue anyway,’ and so, as the heavens had opened, I took the decision to decamp to the establishment next door. Now, the establishment next door happened to be a rather unprepossessing Tex-Mex bar, and very surprised they looked, indeed, to see a gaggle of ‘fumeheads roll in. One imagines their bar had never smelled so fabulous – and the takings never been so high – for as Miguel had earlier commented, perfume people are a strange but lovely lot, and I believe much alcohol was consumed. Best draw a veil over the evening, there, and look forward to 2019, when we can get together and do it all again…

Founder of the awards, Saskia Wilson-Brown told us: "The Art and Olfaction Awards judge excellence in a blind process, regardless of marketing budgets, place of origin, bottle or any other considerations. To me, this is an equalizing process, and - as such - an important way to allow small brands to get attention. More importantly even, we strive to create a space for community, where together we can promote artisan, independent and experimental practices as a whole. As judge Spyros Drosopoulos said at this year's event: "The real competition is not between the awards participants, but between the independent perfume community and mainstream perfume". In other words, we're all in it together. I hope the Art and Olfaction Awards reflect that spirit. "

Those pining for further perfume and smell-related creative endeavours, have no fear, as the Institute for Art and Olfaction have a full itinerary of events planned, which you can read about and book tickets for on their website.


Sarah McCartney (4160 Tuesdays) presenting one of the Artisan Awards


Kendra Gaeta of the IOA


Saskia Wilson-Brown with Katie Puckrik, who provided the closing speech of the ceremony

All photos by Marina Chichi

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About the author: Suzy Nightingale

A freelance fragrance and beauty writer, Suzy divides her time between being Senior Writer for The Perfume Society’s magazine, The Scented Letter; hosting How to Improve Your Sense of Smell events in London; trend-forecasting for Stylus and writing a monthly column for Esprit. When not writing, she can be found exploring niche boutiques and gin palaces with equal rigour, or looking up rude phrases in Victorian slang.

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    Comments

      • Hazel5 | 27th April 2018 14:40

        Fun read, and love the photos. Thank you! Many more additions to the testlist!

      • MrsDalloway | 29th April 2018 20:56

        Great article, thanks. Sounds a lot of fun. Perfume people don't seem to be shy!

      • Primrose | 4th May 2018 21:04

        What a gathering of great people!

        Thank you for the report!

      • JadainGA | 9th May 2018 20:00

        Very enjoyable article.

        If someone reading this has access to Katie Puckrik, PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE ask her to get her YouTube fragrance reviews fired up again! Hers were the best! :)