Smell is the sense most strongly linked to memory. While I’ve always had a wildly accurate long term memory (I can remember my first birthday and party) my sense of smell has long been diminished by allergies. Maybe it’s my giving up and giving in and stopping all the benadryl and steroid sprays, but for whatever reason, my sense of smell has come back full force, though sometimes intermittently, to catch me by complete surprise. Ironically, this re-acquired sense has happened at the same time that I have reached a point where my short term memory only exists in Evernote and Trello.
My godmother’s house has always had this very distinct smell, not overly perfumy, but as if some exotic wildflower potpourri from the 1970’s lingers heavily amidst the velvet sofa, the dog and cat fur, years of amazing cooking, and, to those in the know, a slight whiff of acrylic paints and mediums. This smell, familiar but now stronger for me to perceive, hit me with a profound wave of nostalgia and sadness when Bobbie was briefly home from the hospital last winter. Walking in her front door, was a time warp. I was once again 8 years old and trying to enter but immediately blocked by 3 exuberantly happy dogs, jumping on me and obliviously smacking me with their fast wagging tails. In reality, I’m so far from 8 now, those same beloved dogs now distant memories with all the ones that have come in between.
Last spring, a few weeks after Bobbie died, her daughter, aka my only-children-big-sister, brought me 3 boxes of acrylic inks from Bobbie’s huge stash of art supplies. Most were at least half full. I put them on my drawing table and looked longingly at their heavily pigmented colors while working like a maniac on the current projects. I stole an hour one very stressful afternoon and played with the inks on Arches Velin (text wove) paper to recharge my batteries. When I opened the bottles, that smell of her house hit me unexpectedly with a wave of loss. The inks had absorbed her house and delivered it to my own studio. I could only hope Bobbie’s creativity would decant the same way.
Recently, I’ve been helping her family begin sorting through all the artwork, books, art supplies, chachkas, and we’re-not-quite-sure-what objects that have filled her home for decades. That distinctive smell that I associate with some of the happiest times of my life has been stirred up with the chachkas and knick knacks and dust and is now even stronger. – It is augmented with her roommate’s fine cooking as well. – Maybe my ability to perceive the smell is even stronger. Either way, it has become paradoxically precious while simultaneously kicking in my allergies.
When I was a child and dreamed of being an archaeologist, Bobbie used to joke that I could do my graduate dissertation work by digging through the layers of stuff in her house. I am not an archaeologist, and I’m certainly not 8 years old either. Still, the work has begun. I didn’t actually grid and mark off the site, though I thought about it. Some of her books and art supplies are now in my studio, and I am suddenly aware of my own house’s distinctive smell, particularly in the studio. As I walk by the bags and bins that await unpacking, their smell wafts up to blend with what was already here. It’s like walking through a rose garden and catching the different perfume of each bush as I pass by, and, like a rose garden, the whole experience has me stuffed up and reaching for tissues. I can’t bear to move any of it for fear that the rush of warm memories will evaporate. There is little enough space in my studio as it is, so I’ll have to assimilate the treasured artifacts very soon. Bobbie’s paint brushes in the containers with mine, her books side by side on the shelves with mine…whole huge parts of this amazing person will become further assimilated into my everyday work as her creative influence has always permeated my outlook on life and art.
For Mothers Day today, my son gave me a gift certificate from my favorite garden store, my husband gave me AirPods, and a hacker group in Turkey hijacked my brand new website. (Rest assured! No evidence of hacking anyone’s data on the site but mine.) Instead of enjoying my garden with my AirPods in my…
From stardust we are fired and scattered, aggregated and evolved, only to spend our limited existence seeking to aggregate, create, and evolve quickly before the light burns away back into stardust. I wrote that one day at my local coffee shop in the middle of writing something else entirely. Apparently, while one part of my…
Architectural metalwork by Victoria Lansford incorporates ancient techniques utilized on large scale projects for contemporary spaces 1 of 2 projects for a 69 meter, custom built superyacht – stay tuned for more progress photos