press release

Opening: Tuesday, 29 April 6-8 pm Artist talk: Tuesday, 29 April 5-6 pm Draw What You Smell: Tuesday, 20 May 1-3 pm

Reg Vardy Gallery is proud to host If There Ever Was: an exhibition of extinct and impossible smells.

In his book of essays entitled, Late Night Thoughts on Listening to Mahler’s Ninth Symphony, the physician Lewis Thomas wrote, “The act of smelling something, anything, is remarkably like the act of thinking itself.” And it is with this appreciation of smell as comparable to thought and interpretation that the exhibition If There Ever Was considers scent as integral to the perception of abstraction and representation.

Scent is the essence of physical presence and lends proof to our surroundings. Contrastingly, the fourteen scents re-created for If There Ever Was are inspired by absence. Like a cabinet of intangible curiosities, their forms are drawn from disparate stories throughout history for which few, if any, objects remain. And although it would be easy to pass the exhibition off as a work of pure fantasy—the product of an over-active perfumer’s imagination—beneath the olfactory theatricality lies a serious scientific basis, says James Wong, a botanist at Botanic Gardens Conservation International, UK.

For the exhibition, Wong helped to re-create the bouquet of four extinct flowering plants by trawling through an extensive list of extinct flowers to identify entries that were closely related to existing scented species. He then combined historical reports of how these extinct plants smelt, with the fragrance of their living relatives, to remix the specific ancient aroma.

From the acrid surface of the sun to the atomic blast at Hiroshima, visitors to the exhibition will be able to experience scents produced by the most renowned fragrance designers in the world.

A book of smells accompanies the exhibition, ISBN: 978-0-9557478-0-9. This hardback publication is on sale at Reg Vardy Gallery (rrp £12.00) and is distributed by Cornerhouse, If There Ever Was: a book of extinct and impossible smells is published by Art Editions North.

This exhibition is sponsored by the Mondriaan Foundation, Northern Gas Networks, which runs north east England’s gas emergency service and uses scent to help people detect gas leaks and the Sponsors Club for Arts & Business.

Artists include: Kóan Jeff Baysa, Mark Buxton, Bertrand Duchaufour, Christoph Hornetz, Christophe Laudamiel, Patricia Millns, Steven Pearce, David Pybus - Scents of Time, Geza Schön, Sissel Tolaas, and Maki Ueda

only in german

If there ever was
an exhibition of extinct and impossible smells

Artists include:
Künstler: Koan Jeff Baysa, Mark Buxton, Bertrand Duchaufour, Christoph Hornetz, Christophe Laudamiel, Patricia Millns, Steven Pearce, David Pybus, Geza Schön, Sissel Tolaas, Maki Ueda