IAIN MACLEAN

 

 

OLFACTORY: An adj (Latin) relating to the sense of smell.

 

Humans have 347 functional odour receptor genes for smell.  We can recognise up to 10,000 different odours, but only seven to eight tastes. So most of what we think is taste, is actually smell. That's why, when we have flu or a cold, we can taste very little.

 

Physiologically, smell sense-receptors, which cover an area about the size of a postage stamp, are located at the top of the palate next to the Hippocampus, an area of the brain responsible for memory and the Amygdala – which plays a key role in the processing of emotions and is part of the limbic system (the so-called lizard-brain).

 

Unlike the other senses, SMELL is directly linked to emotion and memory. That’s why smells evoke memories and emotions so powerfully.  A particular odour can recall first love, a particular summer, schooldays, Christmas, a place, a time - instantly.

 

New research indicates that early childhood smells can never be erased and leave an indelible mark on the brain.

 

John Steinbeck expressed the power of smell in East of Eden, " I remember my childhood names for grasses and secret flowers. I remember where a toad may live and what time the birds awaken in the summer and what the seasons and trees smelled like - how people looked and walked and smelled even. The memory of odours is very rich."

 

Marcel Proust also expressed it in Remembrance of Things Past as follows: "After people are dead, after things are broken and scattered.. the smell and taste remain poised a long time, like souls... bearing resiliently on the tiny and almost impalpable drops of their essence; the immense edifice of memory."

 

In spite of all this there has never been an art form based on smell.

 

Perfumiers practice an applied art and their raison d'etre is produce pleasant odours/scents/smells to enhance people's physical attractiveness.  They don't produce ordinary, or even unpleasant smells that evoke memories.

 

I first started experimanting woth smells as an art form in the early 70s, but the problems of capturing and maintaining smells were insurmountable, so reluctanly, I was forced to give it up.

 

However, over the years, new advances in gas chromatography and mass spectrometry technology have enabled chemists to capture, analyse and reconstitute odour molecules in what is called Headspace  Capture Process. In other words, odours can now be replicated chemically.

 

So, science and art can meet to explore our most mysterious and neglected sense and thereby open up new worlds to everyone and, in particular, the blind, who have been excluded from apprciating our all too  visually-biased forms of art.      

 

With thanks and gratitude for the advice, of William Andrews of P&G and the generosity and help of the amazing perfumer, Angela Stavrevska who created the Jubilee scent Adamas, exclusively for HM the Queen on behalf of the industry.

 

This is an exciting and evocative new artform, that has never really been explored.  For want of a better expression, I’ve called it Olfactorism, after the Latin for sense of smell.  Why not?  Impressionism was  based on exploring light and Olfactorism is based on exploring smell.

 

 

 

 

 

 

THE OLFACTORY SERIES

“Dramatic, to a certain extent disturbing. You certainly have an imagination to enable one to see deep inside and understand it.”

Zarco Ivanov, Russia

 

“Inspired and cathartic. Slightly disturbing.”

Mark Watkins, Switzerland

 

“Very inspirational and real.”

karen uppal. London

 

“Thought provoking, emotional and brilliant!”

Haley Constable, London

 

“Dark and emotionally affecting. Good luck with the slave sculpture project.”

Tom Hopkins, London

 

“A fantastic exploration of emotion.”

Adam Saltid, London

 

“Deep passion for people, the Human Race comes through. Really like your use of texture in paintings. And look forward to seeing your Slave sculpture one day.”

Romany Cottam, London

 

“Powerful work!”

Adam Hewitt, London

 

“I really like your interest in smell as a way of reliving past narratives. I’m looking forward to seeing the slave ship take off.”

Natasha Tonkin

 

“I like your work and the feeling it gives the viewer – specially the use of colour, which is really great. Overall, I think that anybody that does art, fashion or architecture could find it inspiring. It’s great.”

Dorian Yima

 

 

“Inspired and cathartic. Slightly disturbing.”

Mark Watkins, Switzerland

 

“Very inspirational and real.”

karen uppal

 

“Thought provoking, emotional and brilliant!”

Haley Constable, London

 

“Dark and emotionally affecting. Good luck with the slave sculpture project.”

Tom Hopkins

 

“A fantastic exploration of emotion.”

Adam Saltid, London

 

“Deep passion for people, the Human Race comes through. Really like your use of texture in paintings. And look forward to seeing your Slave sculpture one day.”

Romany Cottam, London

 

“Powerful work!”

Adam Hewitt, London

 

“I really like your interest in smell as a way of reliving past narratives. I’m looking forward to seeing the slave ship take off.”

Natasha Tonkin

 

“I like your work and the feeling it gives the viewer – specially the use of colour, which is really great. Overall, I think that anybody that does art, fashion or architecture could find it inspiring. It’s great.”

Dorian Yima

“Very moving work. I wish you every success with the slave ship.”

Ann Brown

 

“Very much enjoyed the exhibition. Very challenging and thought provoking.”

Annie Fernando

 

“Frightening and wonderful work.”

America Lopez, London

 

“It inspired. It stoked the feelings we keep deep within.”

Kayla Shaefer

 

“Very thought-provoking + I love the reds!”

Hen Rajasalo

 

“Like the use of red.”

Tabitha Beckman

 

“I met the artist. That was GREAT. Love the work.”

Leisa Rea, London

 

“What ideas - wishing. I wish you good luck with the slavery project.”

Irene Adams, London

 

“Clever, witty and horrific all at the same time.”

Alexis Smith, London

 

“TORN CURTAIN – BRILLIANT.”

Laura Kingdon, London

 

“Blessed with a rare talent.”

Yea Yeas

What the people, not the critics, said.

 

Copyright iain Maclean 2017. All rights reserved...

 

 

 

Unlike my father, my mother’s experiences of WW2 were a mystery. She was reluctant to speak about them, beyond saying that she and her family were forcibly removed from their farm in Poland by the Russians and taken to Siberia. Their lands were confiscated and turned into a collective farm.

 

Later in life I was shocked to discover the details of her early life. This is her story.

 

In September 1939, Germany and Russia invaded Poland and divided it between them. Stalin took Eastern Poland and absorbed it into the Soviet Union.

 

Over 1.5 million Poles had their homes and land confiscated and were sent to slave labour camps in Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Siberia.

 

My mother remembers waking up one morning in the Winter of 1939, to the sound and sight of Russian troops outside their farmhouse.  The soldiers arrested my grandfather Andrew Osko at bayonet point and told him, his wife, Gugalo, and their four children, all in their teens: Leokadia, my mother, her brothers Edward, and Leszek, and her younger sister, Regina, to pack up their belongings.

 

They were then taken to the local train station and herded into a cattle truck along with 50 or so other people. Many of the local villagers looked on with surprise and fear.

 

Why had my mother’s family been selected? My grandfather, who was Swedish, but a naturalised Pole, had been an army officer and was at that time a senior civil servant in the army ministry and divided his time between Warsaw and the farm, which straddled Poland and Ukraine.

 

It was probably because the Russians had him marked down as a dangerous civil servant and “Osadniki”. Osadniki was the name given to Polish soldiers who had fought and defeated a vastly superior Russian army on the banks of river Vistula, just outside Warsaw, in August 1920.

 

In recognition of their bravery, many were given land, or farms by the then new Government of Poland.

 

Like many of her strong and damaged generation, my mother never spoke  much about the privations she and her family suffered in the slave labour camp (gulag).

 

Forced labour in Siberia in temperatures below minus 40.

 

The gulag was run by the NKVD (Russian secret police) and families were crowded together in unhealthy, lice-infested communal barracks - in temperatures that often fell below minus 40.

 

In spite of the fact that they worked all day logging, they lived on potato peeling soup, when available and 100 grams of black bread a day. Not surprisingly, many thousands died.

 

Those on the brink of death were called “Dokhodiagas”, or goners. In 1938 USSR procurator Andrei Vyshinsky wrote to NKVD chief Nikolai Yezhov, “Among the prisoners there are some so ragged and lice-ridden that they pose a sanitary danger to the rest. These prisoners have deteriorated to the point of losing any resemblance to human beings. Lacking food they collect garbage and, according to some prisoners, eat rats and dogs.”

 

According to declassified Soviet information 1,053,829 people died in the gulags between 1934 and 1953. However this is probably grossly understated, as gulags often released prisoners on the edge of death rather than bothering to dispose of their corpses.

 

In June 1941, after the collapse of the Nazi-Soviet Pact, Germany invaded Russia. The USSR needed help to fight their former ally. So, a Polish-Soviet treaty was agreed which allowed the release of all Poles held in labour camps and the formation of a new Polish army under Polish General Anders, based in Southern Russia.

 

But, unbeknown to Anders, the Russians were reluctant to lose all their slaves, and out of the million deported Poles who had survived the two-years of forced labour, only 160,500 managed to get away from the camps before Stalin called a halt to the exodus.

 

Out of 1.5 million, only 160,500 got away.

 

My Mother’s family were part of that 160,500. By various means, the women of her gulag managed to persuade the Russians that they and their menfolk wanted to go South to help General Anders in the fight against the Nazis.

 

Somehow they laid their hands on a train, which, after many close calls, took them down South. On the way down, on a particularly cold day, my Grandfather died and my mother and her brothers were forced to throw his body off the moving train.

 

The Poles struggled to reach southern Russia where the Polish army was reassembling under General Anders at Buzuluk. The Russians had promised to supply food, clothing and equipment. However, this didn‘t arrive, and yet again, thousands more died of starvation and disease.

 

Eventually, in 1942 Anders’ army and surviving the Polish civilians were evacuated from Russia through Constantinople (now Istanbul) to British-controlled Pahlavi in Persia (now Iran). Anders’ army joined the Allied forces in Europe.

 

The British offered Polish children and families the choice of going to refugee camps in: India, Africa, Mexico and New Zealand.

 

My Mother, her mother and sister Regina, chose Africa.  Meanwhile her brother Edward joined the RAF, so he went to England. Her other brother Leszek, joined Anders’ army and he remained in Europe where he became involved in Solidarity.

 

In October 1942, according to the eccentric the Director of War Evacuees and Camps of Northern Rhodesia, Gore Browne, there were 1,227 Polish refugees in the Northern Rhodesian refugee camp in Lusaka. My mother was one of them. And that’s where she met my father, a young British army officer…

 

The slavery series surfaced when I returned to art school in 2006 and it’s something I return to frequently.Dearest Leokadia died in August 2016. This series is dedicated to her.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

THE ANTI-SLAVERY SERIES

The Last Train to Hell by Iain Maclean Lust To Dust by Iain Maclean IM_020_print IMG_7277 Slaves VI. Iain Maclean Barcode Bathsheba - Iain Maclean Brookes leaflet 328 kb HC 8 Heartof D Hamburger Hell The Chattel a painting by Iain Maclean Calm and hope slave Child labour by Iain maclean side Child labour by Iain Maclean Screen Shot 2016-03-30 at 10.38.22 IM_012_print IMG_8953 David Bowie and the Block by Iain Maclean IMG_9001 Screen Shot 2017-11-10 at 15.15.57