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olor de Cadaqués

  • Olor de Cadaqués/Smell of Cadaqués

    Workshop script: ‘What Does Your Nose Tell You?’
    Level I: ages 6 to 12
    Ideally, the participants should not have seen the exhibition.

    PART I
    In the Workshop Room of the Museu de Cadaqués
    I’m sure you’ve already noticed that we are surrounded by noses, haven’t you?
    I don’t know if you noticed the sign at the entrance: What does your nose tell you?
    Yes, our noses tell us lots of things and know a great many things.
    In this room, the most important thing is THE NOSE.
    Now I’m going to tell you a few and you will see how much fun it is to get our noses working.
    So, let’s see: where is your nose?
    In the middle of your face. You see how important our noses must be, because they are right in the middle of our faces!
    The five senses:
    Sight: we have two eyes
    Hearing: we have two ears
    Touch: the whole body, but especially the two hands
    Smell: we have two nostrils, but only one nose
    Taste: we have only one mouth, but it connects directly with the nose, doesn’t it?
    Sometimes you get water up your nose, in the sea or the swimming pool … and we quite often swallow the snot, don’t we?
    Smell has a lot to do with taste. The fact is, the things you eat have a lot less flavour when you have a cold, don’t they? That’s because your nose is stuffed up and you can’t smell them.
    Try it some day: hold your nose while you eat one of your favourite foods and you’ll find that it doesn’t taste half as good.

    So, then: THE NOSE!
    What does the nose do?
    And also so that Eskimos can kiss, so that we can get rid of the mucus when we cry or catch a cold, so that people’s glasses don’t fall off … to get a piercing … But, mostly, this is what it lets us do:
    Many animals have a much more highly developed sense of smell than we do. Dogs, of course. Sharks, too: for example, a shark can detect the smell of a few particles of blood in the sea at a distance of several metres. And there are moths that can identify their partner by their smell over several kilometres.
    A baby animal recognizes its mother by her smell. Human babies, too. They say you can often calm a crying child just by placing next to it a piece of clothing its mother has worn.
    It is also the case that you shouldn’t touch a very young animal, because there’s a danger that the mother will no longer recognize it as her own.
    And smells also make us remember, as I’m sure you know.
    The smell of a familiar scent or perfume will remind you of the person who wears it … Let’s see if you can give me any more examples!
    But some things have a smell, and others don’t.
    Things have a smell because they give off invisible particles that travel through the air and slip in through our nostrils, and the nose sends a signal to the brain and we notice the smell. When someone near us peels an orange, even if we don’t see it, we smell it.
    For example, glass doesn’t have a smell: nor does pure water, or gold … but there are sooooo many things that smell. We can distinguish up to 10,000 different smells, but we don’t have 10,000 different receptors in our noses. We only have 347, which combine with each other to send the various different signals to the brain.

    Come on; let’s think about smells.
    – What is the first scent that comes to mind? For me, it’s …
    – Let’s think of smells we like a lot.
    – And now, smells that we don’t like at all.
    – Animals that have a particular smell…
    – Plants that have a particular smell…
    – Foods…
    – Places…

    Inducing ‘synapse’ (link)

    Now we’ll play at inventing what smell goes with …?
    I’ll give you a sheet of paper for you to write down what I say. No hurry: take your time.
    – The colours:
    – Red
    – Blue
    – Green
    – Black
    – White
    – and yellow

    – Now we’ll do the reverse:
    What colour is it?
    – the smell of something burnt
    – the smell of fabric softener or hair conditioner
    – the smell of petrol
    – the smell of paint
    – and the smell of coffee
    – the smell of a new book, of paper …

    Smells evoke a place and a time more intensely than any other stimulus.
    Now we’re going to think of more smells, but with our eyes closed:
    – What does a cinema smell like?
    – What does getting up in the morning to go to school smell like?
    – What do the summer holidays smell like?
    – And Christmas?
    – And the night: what does night smell like?
    – And clouds?
    – And feeling scared?
    – And silence?

    It may be appropriate here to play at guessing places by their smell, describing olfactory maps: a zoo, a funfair, a water park …
    Okay, now that you are olfactory experts, able to guess where you are by the smell of the place, who know which smells go with the colour red and with the sky and with silence … now we’ll visit the exhibition.
    This is a very special exhibition: the collector, the man who lent the artworks in this show to the Museum of Cadaqués, is also a perfumer, a person who invents and manufactures smells. And he likes best about the works we’re going to see now — and many others in his collection — is that when he looks at them a particular smell comes to mind, as if those artworks gave off the particles we talked about earlier. And he hopes that we too will have fun doing the same thing. So now I want you to tell me what smells the exhibition makes you think of and we’ll write him a letter asking him to manufacture them!!!

    The children should be shown how to smell the essences without saturating their sense of smell and creating a lot of pollution.
    THE EXHIBITION VISIT paying special attention to the selected artworks.
    Section I
    Antoni Pitxot or Joan-Josep Tharrats and/or Dalí or Brossa
    Section II
    Antoni Tàpies and/or Dennis Hollingsworth
    Block III
    Yasumasa Morimura and/or Guillermo Pérez Villalta

    When the children are in the gallery, in front of the selected artworks, we ask them what smell comes to mind when they look at a particular work. We note their responses and then let them smell the essence prepared by the collector. What does the essence smell of? Do you think it matches the artwork? We take as many notes as possible, especially in relation to the works chosen.
    We then take the children back to the workshop, where we briefly discuss our experiences during the exhibition visit. We also explain how complex the process of creating smells is, with reference to the smells we encountered in the gallery and to the 3,000 raw materials available to the perfumer to make these little magic pots, ‘from which, now, as we’ll see, some wonderful drawings will come’.
    The children draw one of the smells that are on the table, giving it the corresponding number, or draw ‘the smell of Cadaqués’.
    Photo of the group wearing the little noses.
    We say goodbye to the children with the first artwork and smell in the collection (Ràfols-Casamada) and a reminder of the collector’s devotion to smells, as the work by Eugenio Merino makes clear.

    This Workshop is © colección olorVISUAL and Mercè Peralta and may not be used or reproduced without the prior permission of the Collection. You can contact us at: