Scents of Change

Empty shopfronts decorated in faded newspaper peeling and barely legible through the dust laden glass, a small slit for letters in the door stuffed full spills through the entrance way like an envelope rug. The verandah providing a makeshift scaffold itself soon to be washed in multiple coats of fresh paint. A sign rehung and relit, the bright encased neon a beacon to the fresh and new lighting a logo designed with restraint in a minimalist style. A stark exterior at contrast with the warm beige and light brown tones from within, a beautiful and welcoming ambience, a friendly atmosphere and a side of calm. Gentrification at best brings beauty to the high street, providing a vast distinction from any empty feeling of anxiety one might anticipate had the landscape been scattered with litter and the detritus of neglect in an otherwise unappealing place providing no necessity to stop.

All of our senses help to create personal ideologies of spaces and what we expect of them, this at times will be entirely an act on a subconscious level helped along by the beauty in which a space holds or fails to. When we acquaint ourselves with a space, the space in return offers comfort and becomes one that is congenial or forces us away to look elsewhere. We struggle with a feeling of unease due to silence or lack of activity and find comfort by association in both the patterns of flow and the resonance of sound throughout these spaces that we inwardly make ours. The background conversations interrupted by the occasional chinking of glasses reverberating in accordance with the level of liquid they contain becomes an ambient sound synonymous with a moment. We associate good feeling with being in areas which are popular as they draw us in and offer a sense of communal comfort. Apartment blocks arise on land before little used or little loved, although demanding prices higher than the complete homes which existed prior. We’re hemmed in by concrete giants, towers filling voids in the sky, blocking views, bringing claustrophobia but offering comfort and shelter, like a hug for one left too long without the touch of another, we don’t always miss it not being there, but we don’t detest its appeal.

For any space in which we spend time, scent more so than our other senses plays an important role in the psychogeography of our perceived landscape. Even if unacknowledged at the time, the memory is engrained so intensely that the slightest hint of a familiar fragrance can transport you to a place related moment in your memory more vividly than sound or visual cues, this is referred to as a Proustian moment. It was discovered on recollection by 20th century French Novelist Marcel Proust upon sipping a spoonful of tea-soaked Madeleine, “No sooner had the warm liquid, and the crumbs with it, touched my palate, a shudder ran through my whole body, and I stopped, intent upon the extraordinary changes that were taking place. An exquisite pleasure had invaded my senses, but individual, detached, with no suggestion of its origin.” We unknowingly deliver the senses boundless Proustian moments helped along by a space a-waft with fragrance, natural and curated. Most all of these moments are unintentional but self-created memories are afforded if we take a minute to engage not only our visual sense but our olfactory one.


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