Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Essences of London

Essences of London was a year-long project involving the London Boroughs of Brent, Hackney, Lambeth, Newham and Tower Hamlets. The aim was to create a composite portrait of London by capturing essences of city life through the sense of smell. Hundreds of Londoners were interviewed about their personal smell associations, including workers in 'aromatic trades' such as cobblers, fishmongers, florists, bakers and refuse collectors.

Like a road trip into the atriums of the heart, or a song whose first chords fill you with sweet despair... the quiet power of Leslie Hill and Helen Paris's performance lies in its low-key directness, its quirky juxtapositions and its understanding of the geography of loneliness and the myth of return.

Helen Paris and Leslie Hill have been working together as Curious for the past twelve years. In that time, they have made over forty projects in a range of disciplines including performance, installation, publication and film. The work is global and domestic: sometimes large, sometimes small in scale. Intimacy and a shared sense of encounter with an audience is always an important element.

Helen and Leslie called their company Curious because what drives them as artists is an intense curiosity about the world in which they live. Each of the projects starts with a question; What is the relationship between smell and memory? What do you long for and where do you belong? What is lost and what is found in places undergoing rapid regeneration and change? What are gut feelings?

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