The space between sight and scent

7 January 2016

In the world of fragrance a soliflore is a perfume built around the scent of a particular flower, it’s also the name of artist Lee Jensen’s latest Toi Pōneke exhibition.

a bouquet of white roses against a black background - by Lee Jensen.

An image from Soliflore

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Soliflore: White Rose/White Lily features a series of exquisitely detailed, large scale photographs of white roses and oriental white lilies.

The high-resolution images were taken over the life of cut flowers – capturing them at their most fulsome and documenting their subsequent decline. In fact, the flatbed scanning process which enabled the creation of the intricate prints actually hastened the deterioration of the fragrant blooms.

A lecturer at Massey University College of Creative Arts, Jensen says the photographs evoke the life of a perfume – in the process of creating these opulent images, as with the creation of a luxurious fragrance, the flowers themselves are destroyed.

With a background in graphic art and design, Soliflore: White Rose/White Lily is somewhat of a departure for Jensen, who has become increasingly fascinated with fragrance. Discovering niche perfume houses, and learning about the building blocks of scent – both naturally occurring and synthetic, Jensen says a new world has opened up.

“I’ve become interested in perfumes with diverse and unique inspiration – travelling, blood types, by ancient empires, by biography,” he says. “But fragrance puzzles us, we don’t have an adequate expressive language for it and we experience any perfume in quite different and very individual ways.”

“Perfume is about a sensory experience for me, vivid like colour and sound – a felt or smelt part of my sensorial landscape. But at the moment my tools are visual, so my response is a visual response to the perfumed object, in this case the flowers. I suspect as my research and olfactory skills increase, the balance will shift.”

Jensen will also be hosting a perfume workshop to share some of the knowledge he has acquired throughout his research. The aim will be not be to create perfumes, rather a ‘show and smell’ and an opportunity to identify and compare a variety of floral fragrances from the artist’s collection of over 150 perfumes.

“I want us to open up this sensory world a little and share our knowledge and experience of fragrance. I will introduce some useful texts and language.

Attendees don’t need to bring anything, but I would be interested in any of the white flower florals – gardenia, lily, rose, tuberose, jasmine – that people want to share.”

To book into the workshop email L.E.Jensen@massey.ac.nz. Places are limited.