I am endlessly fascinated by the link between the senses and memory. No doubt someone cleverer than I has written much on the subject.
I started to think about the links between music and memory last year with a performance action called Memory Jukebox where I put my music library on shuffle and as pertinent songs came up I tried to draw or scribe the related memory and send it to the person included in it – the action of their reading it becoming a kind of remote performance. It is something I have considered revisiting but I think the idea needs work. The driving force behind it remains with me however as I am rarely without my iPod and the soundtrack to my life. It is the specifity that always surprises me. The detail of the memories invoked and the emotional impact of almost reliving the moment.
Scent is much the same, and brings me back to the inspiration for this post. I am on a train to Bridlington to see family. At Selby station I was hit by the strong smell of turps and was immediately reminded of the boy I had my first ‘proper’ kiss with. Adrian Deveril was two years older than me and I was 13, hopelessly innocent and a little scared by his attention. The day in question his friends announced he intended to ask me out and were to take me to him. So of course I ran away and hid. In the art room where I got black paint on my brand new ski-jacket. I was gripped with a brand new fear now. My Mum was going to KILL me! So some bright spark suggested we wash it with turps. Which is exactly what we were doing when the boys found me.
The paint never came off and the smell of turps lingered for much of our 2 month relationship. Therefore turps equals Adrian.