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Have a Sniff at Scented Artworks

Olfactory Art – Geurkunst – in Aotearoa 

Netherlands-New Zealand Collaboration introduces an old ‘new’ art form

1 April - 2 July, 2023 - Māpuna Kabinet art gallery, Te Awahou Nieuwe Stroom, Foxton

An international collaboration between Dutch and New Zealand artists will put a bright spotlight on olfactory art. The avant-garde 'Smells like Roses – Rozengeur' exhibition, in Foxton’s Māpuna Kabinet Art Gallery, will run until early July (1 week closure from 27 May to 4 June).

New Zealand galleries have paid fleeting attention to the art form in the recent past. And a smattering of new perfumers have set up exciting businesses over the last few years – perhaps even the beginnings of an artisanal industry. But olfactory art is still largely an unknown, in Aotearoa.  Listen here for a fun interview on RNZ National Radio.  

Have you ever wanted to experience multi-dimensional art? To walk up to artwork and smell the flowers or the forest in the picture? Now you can at the sensuous art exhibition 'Smells like Roses - Rozengeur.'

Let scented art pieces from the Netherlands and Aotearoa take you on a journey of the mind. Walk among moss and pines. Smell the roses and explore lush scents wafting towards you. 

"Artworks, imbued with scents, are known to create intimate or mood-changing experiences that can evoke memories and emotions," says Arjan van der Boon, Co-Chair of the Oranjehof Dutch Connection museum and co-curator of the exhibition. 

"Dutch museums have used paper strips or 'scent dispensers' to evoke, for example, 18th-century canal house odours – both fragrant and foul. Today, established institutions like the Rijksmuseum, where the old Dutch masters are on display, use smells to let visitors more holistically experience the past. These are the new techniques and approaches to art that we want to introduce to New Zealand audiences."

 "Olfactory art is all the rage in the United States of America and Japan, and let's have a sniff at it in Aotearoa as well," Arjan explains.

 In New Zealand, a few artists and scientists are exploring the field. One of the few artists working in Olfactory art is Raewyn Turner. Raewyn and her artistic partner Brian Harris work predominantly in Aotearoa but have received recognition for their ground-breaking and innovative work, especially in Europe and the United States of America.

Other artists who will participate with Raewyn and Brian are Caro Verbeek, Claudia De Vos and Frank Bloem. Caro has worked on the smells of the Battlefield of Waterloo and an 18th-century canal house to make those scents come alive again.
"Frank was commissioned to undertake a project through the 'Embassea of the North Sea.’ Most Dutch immigrants will have fond childhood memories of trips to the Noordzee and its popular holiday places. We want to bring that intense nostalgia back here. The 'Big Dutch Day Out' in April brings thousands of 'Dutchies' to Foxton, and they will love it," says Arjan.

'Rozengeur' is a first for Oranjehof – an art exhibition through international collaboration. This signifies the importance and benefits of exchanges, inclusivity and diversity – in an ever more fractured world.

"Art isn't always accessible to everyone," says Arjan. "Often, visually impaired people are excluded. This Olfactory art exhibition is making art inclusive to all, including sight-impaired people and people with other disabilities like synaesthesia. Whether you're an art lover, a rose lover, someone loving scents, or just curious, bring your friends and whānau and experience art as you've never done before."

Smells like Roses – Rozengeur exhibition
1 April to 27 May and 5 June to 2 July 2023
Te Awahou Nieuwe Stroom
Māpuna Kabinet Art Gallery. 92 Main Street, Foxton
Free entry. Open daily. Saturdays and Sundays from 10am to 4pm. Mondays to Fridays from 9am to 5pm


For further info, please contact Arjan van der Boon, on 027 494 3658.

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