TH_PORTRAIT

Timothy Han: The story behind scent

18.07.2017 | Beauty | BY:

Described as an ‘olfactory storyteller’, Timothy Han is flipping the fragrance landscape on its head with his innovative approach to scent through his brand TH/E Parfum. By taking inspiration from a multitude of sources, such as literature, he is adept at never limiting himself to widely perceived ‘norms’ of practice. Most recently, Han has been combining fragrance with music and VR, to create an entirely new sensory experience. This week, he will appear in residency at Somerset House, as part of their Perfume Lab series. We caught up with the man himself to discover the process behind the genius…

You create perfumes that have a life of their own – what was your journey into this world?
My journey into the world of fragrance was rather accidental. I wouldn’t say there was any specific moment that led to where I am today – rather a haphazard series of events that led from one thing to another. It was everything from my time working with a fledgling John Galliano and his love of scented candles to launching my own candle brand; a chance and somewhat amusing encounter with Francis Kurkdijan who planted the idea in my head and a drink with my friend Paul Tvaroh who started making drinkable perfumes many, many years ago. I was also very lucky to have the support of Caroline Burstein who was the creative director of Browns at the time, and she promised that if I made perfume that Browns would help launch the brand. Who could say no to that?

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Why was creating scent built through journey important to you?
One of the things I learned at Galliano was the importance of storytelling. At a time when most designers were just sending models down catwalks he was creating theatre. The models were acting out characters from a story he imagined. They entered by driving vintage cars, John’s interpretation of the catwalk was filled with props like writing desks, wardrobes and beds…he even had ancillary actors on the stage who were dressed in costume and helped to round out the story that he was trying to tell. It was his attention to and ability to create a journey for both the audience and the models which I could see created a much richer and engaging experience than what anybody else was doing that inspired me.

How do you see the relationship between literature and perfume, and who inspires the scents?
I never liked it when a perfumer created a perfume based on something so personal to themselves that the person wearing the perfume had no connection to. I like the idea that with literary inspirations you may have read the book and you certainly can read the book on which the perfume is based so that immediately you have a basis for connection. That way you can agree or disagree with my interpretation and we can at least begin to build a dialogue.

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What’s your favourite creation so far?
That’s like asking a parent which their favourite child is…but if I had to answer I would say my first fragrance ‘She Came to Stay’ for no other reason than that is what set me on this wonderful ride.

And were there particular creations that surprised you?
Certainly…but I haven’t released them. And for those who do get to experience them it will only be fleeting, during secret underground performances (at least until our album is released next year) of our collective Miro Shot that fuses music, fragrance and virtual reality to create a new kind of immersive reality concert experience.

What are your earliest memories of scent?
At the risk of sounding corny…walking through a pine forest in winter.

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How do you think people’s relationship with scent changes as they mature?
I’m not sure that that is so easy to answer – as I think it comes down to the person. While generally speaking (and baring any disabilities) we all have have a sense of smell like we all have eyes to see. But how many people look up in this world or are even remotely aware of half of what their eyes take in at any one time. It’s the same with our sense of smell – for our relationship with smell to change we need to focus on it and be aware of all that it is taking in.

How has the landscape changed? What is it that makes a scent ‘modern’?
People are definitely becoming more aware of fragrance and in particular niche brands. More people are seeking out unique fragrances which reflect their personality and allow them to stand apart from all the masses wearing big brand perfumes. As for what makes a scent modern – it’s the way in which the fragrances are combined and the use of ingredients. For example: you are seeing a lot more fragrances which evoke tar and charcoal now than previously.

What are you looking forward to with your residency at Somerset House?
I’m looking forward to two things. Firstly the lab we are using is being kindly provided by Givaudan and they have a number of proprietary fragrance notes which they will be providing us and which I have never had a chance to smell before. Secondly I will be working alongside my friend Roman Rappak where we will be tying fragrance notes to musical notes. Up until now we have only done this in the privacy of our own workspace so it will be fun to hear people’s feedback as we present variations of different musical notes against a specific fragrance note.

‘Perfume Lab Residencies: Timothy Han’ takes place on Sunday 23 July, 2017. See https://www.somersethouse.org.uk for booking information.

Becky Smith is the Creative Director for Timothy Han; photography throughout by George Harvey; produced by Twin Studio.

Timothyhanedition.com

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Björk

Björk in London this September

22.08.2016 | Culture , Music | BY:

This September in London is about one thing only: Björk. Riding high off the success of her critically-acclaimed album ‘Vulnicura’ she is set to play a number of London shows, as well as hold her own exhibition – ‘Björk : Digital’ – at London’s Somerset House.

For years Björk’s music and visual genius has proved to be both pioneering and iconic in equal measure, and now, the British capital is set to feast on her creative fruits in a variety of mediums. Following the high demand, and subsequent selling out, of her Royal Albert Hall performance on 21st September, an additional show has been announced at the Hammersmith Eventim Apollo on the 24th, with tickets going on sale on Wednesday 17th August. These will be the artist’s first performances in London since the release of her latest album.

Meanwhile, the exhibition at Somerset House is due to feature a number of her digital works, such as virtual reality videos, interactive apps and archive music videos that were created in unison with some of the most spectacular talents from the worlds of visual artistry and programming. Booking is strongly advised.

‘Björk : Digital’ will be on from 1st September – 23rd October 2016. Click HERE for tickets.

Bjork.com

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Summer Screen

Film 4 Summer Screen at Somerset House

16.07.2016 | Film | BY:

Running from 4th – 17th  August 2016 Film 4 presents the annual Summer Screen at Somerset House. The open-air film festival which will present a mixture of cult classics, contemporary movies and premieres is the largest outdoor screen, with full surround sound. What’s more turn up a little earlier to enjoy sundown DJ sets inspired by the screenings to set the mood for the film.

With an eclectic combination of movies there’s something for everyone, from comedy and musical to horror and sci-fi. This year will see the UK premiere of the critically-acclaimed Things To Come which sees a philosophy teacher battle through the death of her mother, getting fired and having to deal with a cheating husband. As always, the Summer Screen will close with a UK premiere, this time it will be a Sundance hit, Captain Fantastic, directed by Matt Ross, which follows the heartfelt story of a father whose idealistic parenting comes under attack when tragedy forces him to bring his family back into the real world. Classics and contemporary films showing include Trainspotting in homage to its 20 year anniversary, Quentin Tarantino’s Jackie Brown with its killer soundtrack, Dracula and Ex Machina to name a few.

Film4 Summer Screen runs from 4th – 17th August, 2016. Ticket prices start from £16.00 plus booking fee. Doors open at 6pm, DJs from 6.45pm and films start at approx 9pm.

Somersethouse.org.uk/film

 

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The Art of Storytelling

30.06.2016 | Art | BY:

Filmmaker and artist Charlotte Colbert is one of those women that make you feel very dull, and impossibly unaccomplished, by comparison. From the outside looking in, her world seems one of perfection. She’s beautiful yet effortless, undoubtedly talented, boundlessly intelligent – and to all intents and purposes, managing to live by doing what she loves, which is – and let’s be honest, always has been – something of a rarity.

Emerging as a master of the surreal narrative, Charlotte’s work has documented everything from faces obscured with giant ’emoji heads’, to the stripped-back grace of nude figures in a former lesbian commune in East London. Her aesthetic is ethereal but not whimsical; there is real, transportive substance there, in among the solitary figures and exquisitely desolate surroundings, you can see relatable and raw emotion.

Ahead of her upcoming shows – one solo exhibition at Gazelli Art House, and another group exhibition to celebrate the genius of Kubrick at Somerset House – we caught up with Charlotte to delve a little deeper into her creative process.

You’re described as a filmmaker and artist – which did you embark on first? And how?
I’ve always been interested in stories and ever since I can remember I’ve been collecting them, putting them down in strange formats, inventing them. As a teenager I’d spend all my nights just wandering through cities talking to people, vagrants, partygoers, down-and-outs and up-and-comings. And when asked what I wanted to do and who I wanted to be, all I could ever think of was the desire to be everyone, to experience life from as many different perspectives as possible. I’d always been scribbling down people’s stories, taking their pictures and little by little it got more formal, not in the sense of square but in the sense of shapely, and the stories started articulating themselves over longer formats as I wrote screenplays for people, and the photographs moved away from documenting, becoming more staged as I tried to capture what had settled in my head rather than what I could immediately see.

How does each discipline differ in terms of inspiration through to execution? Do you have a preference?
Photography is much quicker. It creates little windows into other dimensions and although there is a whole world there, the viewer only gets glimpses into it. Whereas in a film all the details of the world have to be thought out and solved because both viewer and performer will actually inhabit it together for a specific length of time.

In a fine art work only the artist needs to fully understand and believe in the world of its fiction whereas film is much more collaborative and everyone needs to fully inhabit it while making it and viewing it. An actor will need to incarnate a character and for that to happen that character needs a fully fledged logic, language, body language, imaginary world, family situation, back story, quirks etc.

If you create a crazy looking Chewbacca type creature, the writer will know how that monster goes to the toilet, because, even if it doesn’t feature in the film, it will be necessary to the believability and the coherence of the fictional world.

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For your participation in the upcoming Kubrick exhibition at Somerset House, you’ve referenced A Space Odyssey – was this something that you chose or was it assigned to you? Can you remember when you saw the film first? What kind of feelings did it leave you with?
A while back I wrote a screenplay on Lou Andreas Salome, a really interesting writer and intellectual who at the turn of the 19th century wanted to live her life, controversially at the time, in a free spirited, independent, thoughtful way. She became well known for her collection of lovers, from Nietzsche, the young poet Rainer Maria Rilke twenty years her junior, to Freud. During the research, I became quite touched and fascinated by the character of Friedrich Nietzsche – this half-blind, hunchback, outcast of a man who strove the be the Ubermensch, the ‘SuperMan’. He wrote this amazing book called Thus Spoke Zarathustra, which strongly inspired 2001 A Space Odyssey. Kubrick said: “Somebody said man is the missing link between primitive apes and civilized human beings. You might say that is inherent in the story too. We are semi-civilized, capable of cooperation and affection, but needing some sort of transfiguration into a higher form of life. Man is really in a very unstable condition.” It’s that fragility and the desire to overcome it that I was interested in exploring further.

I’ve read that in that work you wanted to explore the astronaut “caught within the limitations of being human” – where there any limitations in particular that you had in mind?
For the Kubrick show I wanted to recreate an odyssey but rather than sending the lone figure of the astronaut into space, I decided to send her to explore our past. The images were shot in the former site of the infamous In and Out Club on Piccadilly. I was interested in the juxtaposition between the astronaut, symbol of the future, symbol of Man’s power to surpass, and this totally decayed building of faded grandeur. The Astronaut, an iconic reference to exploration, the overcoming of nature, the constant attempt to push back the boundaries of our condition, here wanders, tiny and humbled by history and time, through the large, gilded and abandoned rooms. Both the building and the astronaut seem united in their solitude. However grand the quest, however beautiful the endeavor, we can’t escape time and the limits of our own humanity – loneliness, despair, short-sightedness, the need to be loved, sores, our temporality, itchiness, our physicality, our ailments, diseases etc.

Your work has a beautiful ability to be both introspective and yet outward looking at the same time – from ‘A Day At Home’ to the endless expanse of the universe – do you identify with one trait more than the other?
As we haven’t yet developed a way to experience that isn’t human or at least from a human perspective, it feels the world as we perceive it is only ever a mirror to our interiority. They seem to exist in and within each other. When I took the space images, I double exposed them with images of the galaxy and images of cells from our bodies. And it was amazing how similar looking they were. The macro and micro like mirrors. Both containing infinity.

Derelict, empty buildings have featured in your work on more than one occasion, what is it that they say to you? Are your surroundings important to you on a daily basis?
I love derelict buildings. The sense of adventure and discovery at finding them. The putting together of all the pieces and clues to build up a mental image or story of what happened in the space. Derelict buildings are like the architecture to a story. They contain past lives, dreams, loves, hurts all washed away by time. They are like memento moris.

Is there anything in particular reaction that you want people to have to your work?
It depends on the piece – if it’s a film a photograph, a script. But hopefully some kind of feeling. Of solitude, eeriness, a little window into a different world.

How do you feel about the future? Does it scare or inspire you? What are you working on next?
The future scares and inspires me. I’ve got a wee show coming up, ‘Ordinary Madness’ at Gazelli Art House, playing with the idea of our relationship to digitalisation, and am working on a new series of photography on the theme evolution and a feature film, which I am writing, and will be directing.

Charlotte Colbert’s solo show Ordinary Madness opens at Gazelli Art House 1st July, as well as group show Daydreaming with Stanley Kubrick at Somerset House on 6th July

Charlottecolbert.com

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‘Nobody Believes That I Am Alive’

19.05.2016 | Art | BY:

Growing up in Minsk, now Belarus, before moving to the United States and later France, Alexandra Catiere learned early on to immerse herself in a universe of her own. This is a skill Catiere has taken with her into her photography, where she documents intimate moments that all make a passing comment on the transient nature of time and the ephemerality of life.

Through her distinct visual language and exploration of both sensation and atmosphere, she manages to avoid the cliches of naked young people shot with flash on a 35mm point and shoot camera. Instead, her inspiration and style aligns itself more closely to that of the legendary Irving Penn, who she worked alongside in 2005 shortly after graduating from the International Centre of Photography (ICP). Her works are in the same nature of Penn’s—classical black and white images, begging the audience to study the world in which they are taken without a preconceived notion of context.

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A new exhibition – Photo London – which has just opened in London at Somerset House, explores Catiere’s work in the form of a three-part series: ‘Here, Beyond the Mists’, ‘Land without Shadows’, and ‘Nobody Believes That I Am Alive’. The exhibition deals with themes such as time, realisation, life and death in a way that underscores Catiere’s own belief system “that death does not and can not truly exist, while memory still remains”.

When asked to describe the photographers work Nathalie Herschdorfer, the curator of this exhibition says: “Catiere’s photography is of an intimate and independent nature. It deals with the passing of time, outside of the narrative realisation. Time stands still. The beings and places that she depicts seem to come from a distant past but nonetheless seem to be anchored in the present. Catiere’s photographs enthral us, they seduce us and call us into question.”

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The exhibition is on now, and runs until 22nd May 2016 at Somerset House, London, Booth F7.

Alexandracatiere.com // Somersethouse.org.uk

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Film4 Summer Screen at Somerset House

02.06.2014 | Film | BY:

This August see’s the 10-year anniversary of the ever popular Film4 Summer Screen at Somerset House. Running from the 7th-20th August, they are set to be the showcasing of premieres, as well as showings of cult classics and much-loved movies, such as Annie Hall, Ghostbusters and E.T.

One of the UK premieres includes the documentary 20,000 Days on Earth, being shown on Wednesday, 13th August. Directed by Iain Forsyth and Jane Pollard, this is a vividly cinematic documentary film that constructs an imaginary day-in-the-life of the oh-so-cool Australian musician, author and screenwriter Nick Cave.

Following him from his Brighton bedroom to the Sydney Opera House, it explores the creative process and the nature of collaboration. Forsyth and Pollard manage ‘guest stars,’ archive material and live footage to create a mysterious and moving portrait of a one-of-a-kind artist.

Other available movies: the double bill of Hairspray (1988) + Spring Breakers on Friday 15th as well as The 400 Blows on Monday 18th August.

Doors open at 6.30pm, DJ from 7pm and the film starts at approximately 9.00pm. Selected screenings will also be specially introduced by the film’s stars and directors.

Tickets available from ticketmaster.co.uk

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Textile Memories

10.05.2013 | Art , Blog , Fashion | BY:

Somerset House has just announced its latest exhibition in honour of the late fashion and art champion Isabella Blow. The woman who helped launch designers such as Alexander McQueen will be honoured in the retrospective Isabella Blow: Fashion Galore!

The exhibition will showcase over a hundred pieces from Blow’s personal wardrobe, famously saved from being auctioned off by her close friend Daphne Guinness, who purchased the art patron’s entire collection. Expect to see work from designers such as McQueen, Philip Treacy, Hussein Chalayan and Julien Macdonald.

Set designer Shona Heath will be creating installations for the show, which not only offers an opportunity to view extraordinary fashion pieces up close, but also to discover the life of the woman who wore them.

Isabella Blow: Fashion Galore! will run from 20 November to 2 March at Somerset House.

somersethouse.org.uk

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Valentino Garavani and Natalia Vodianova, 2012 © Cathleen Naundorf

The Master

29.11.2012 | Blog | BY:

Copious amounts of Lace, velvet and chiffon adorned with beading, pleating, fringing and every other single ornate detailing imaginable have taken over the Embankment Galleries at Somerset House. Of course this can only mean one thing; Valentino, The master of Couture has arrived.

The extensive exhibition showcases over 130 hand-crafted dresses designed by the legendary Italian couturier, Valentino Garavani, throughout his illustrious 50-year career, as well as a comprehensive collection of previously unseen personal items including photographs, press clippings and letters from close friends, clients and peers including Donatella Versace, Anna Wintour and Meryl Streep.

Of course the creation of such a dress (and its painstakingly lengthy, intricate and complicated process) wouldn’t be possible without the House’s Atelier and its family of highly skilled seamstresses (Valentino refers to his as ‘Le Regazze’ a.k.a ‘The Girls.’) “Each of these designs have a beautiful story,” says Valentino. “The Atelier crafted each so diligently by hand, taking hours, sometimes days to complete. The details are incredibly intricate, though outside the runway shows and events, the dresses have rarely been seen, so to be able to showcase these designs at Somerset House, where they can be seen in great detail by the public, is very unique.”

Valentino: Master of Couture opens today until March 3rd 2013 at Somerset House, London.

somersethouse.org.uk

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What Dreams Are Made Of

23.10.2012 | Blog | BY:

Walk into the East Wing galleries of Somerset House this autumn and you’ll feel like you’ve fallen into the pages of a child’s storybook. A cracked humpty dumpty, a double-bass-playing bumblebee and a giant china doll line the galleries’ walls and floors as part of a brand new exhibition entitled Story Teller, celebrating the enchanting and whimsical work of fashion photographer, Tim Walker.

Renowned for his extraordinary imagination that truly knows no bounds, Walker transforms a fashion shoot into a world of make-believe. His pictures that have featured within the pages of leading publications such as Vogue,Vanity Fair and W present the same element of child-like fantasy you would expect from a fairytale. Displayed amid these fantastical fashion photographs from Walkers back catalogue is a series of portraiture that are a slightly more stripped back and fuss-free although equally as captivating. Alber Elbaz, the late Lee McQueen and Tilda Swinton are just a few of the inspirational famous faces that Walker has captured during his time behind the lens to date.

Tim Walker: Story Teller is on until 27th January 2013 at Somerset House, London.

somersethouse.org.uk

 

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Oh so quiet

16.07.2010 | Blog , Music | BY:

As night falls, four spotlights cross the stage at Somerset House to spell out the name of a band whose success this year has been huge. “It’s good to be home,” announce The XX. Without a chart hit, the minimalist Wandsworth trio have found love everywhere from the critics to Shakira, who covered ‘Islands’ at Glastonbury. Tonight, they stick to their simple set-up – the softness of Madley-Croft’s voice complimenting Sim’s deeper, husky tones, while on an elevated platform, Jamie Smith plays electronic drums. Up close, The XX thrill, and in the process give power to all the shy, introverted and Emo kids of the world.

thexx.info

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Your Soul Or Mine

14.07.2010 | Blog , Music | BY:

Gil Scott-Heron has come a long way since the Seventies spirit of ‘The Revolution Will Not Be Televised’. Forty years on, he’s back, and touring with the self-analytical, poetic and redemptive, ‘I’m New Here’. Scott-Heron offers up the wisdom of his growing years in vocals that are deeper, darker and more resonant than ever. These days he’s more melancholic than anarchic. ‘I’m New Here’ is intense and thought-provoking and rather beautiful – just not what you’d expect from ‘the godfather of rap’.

Gil Scott-Heron plays at Somerset House tonight as part of ‘The Summer Series’. ‘I’m New Here’ (Rough Trade) is out now.

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