It is a long story, and it starts with Donald Urquhart, whose "distinctive ink drawings, featuring figures such as Judy Garland, George Best and Elizabeth Taylor, satirically subvert historical and pop-cultural motifs" (via nonstarvingartists.com). Mr. Urquhart has been shortlisted for Beck's Futures 2005, one of the UK's most generous art awards.
Mr. Urquhart's exhibit, titled "Another Graveyard", will explore themes of death and bereavement, and will include a fragrance dispersed into the air by an automatic atomizer:
The 41-year-old artist named the fragrance he created, Darnley, after Mary Queen of Scots' flamboyant husband, Lord Darnley. This fictitious cologne would have been popular among gay men in Edinburgh in the 1930s, Urquhart says. "It would have been a fragrance so particular as to be instantly identifiable. A whiff of Darnley on Princes Street would have alerted those in the know that there was another homosexual nearby. It's a communication method, a sort of secret code."
To create the fragrance he wanted, Urquhart worked with Christopher Sheldrake, the nose behind many of of the perfumes in the Serge Lutens line. Urquhart...
...wanted something reminiscent of Scotland, so heather, shortbread, whisky and peat were put into the mix. The perfume also needed to evoke an old gentleman's club. Cue leather, tobacco, polish, snuff and tweed. The result smells splendid. Like something Quentin Crisp might have dabbed on while wearing a lavender silk scarf.
You can read the rest of the article in the London Independent, or you can read more about the Beck's Futures Exhibition on the Institute of Contemporary Arts website (direct link no longer working, sorry). Better yet, if you are in London, you can go to the exhibit between March 18 and May 15, and then come back here and tell us what it smells like.
Hi R – Divine Bergamote is indeed lovely. I actually was talked into it by Danielle at Tak. I thought she was out of her mind but she was once again right. I have not opened the bottle yet – waiting until Spring and my trip to the Philippines. I thought it would be perfect for a business trip. If the Jasmine is at Tak today – I will sample it and let you know what I think. Enjoy you day off.
I goofed and my comments got listed twice. Sorry!
Chris and Serge are my idols…they are a perfect team. Did you know that Christopher is also the perfumer for Avon's Perceive for Women? And it just happens to be my all time favorite Avon scent…never mind that my holy grail was also created by these two…Feminite du Bois! This sounds downright delicious!
Wow, is Perceive still made?
And I just tried Feminite du Bois last week. It is wonderful. I was very surprised — lots of my favorites are by Serge Lutens but I don't much care for the Bois series.
Yes, Perceive is still made and it's a very pretty bottle similar to a big chunk of ice! It's on the website or contact your Avon rep…or I can send you some in a drammie to sniff!
P, going to email you
Wow! I love to read about Mary, Queen of Scots, and it's intriguing to think of what her husband Darnley would have worn. I'm not sure about the homosexual connotations, but I think he indeed was quite a fop!
M, wish we could both go to the exhibit! It sounds fascinating.