Glass, scent, silver, mirror, scent

Exhalation is a hopeless amulet warding off the existential risk of climate change. This vessel is filled with a tear-like quantity of scent created from the oils of plants, flowers and elements that soothe the respiratory tract after smoke inhalation or infection - questioning how climate events permeate, punctuate and transform bodies. Through the senses, this work intermingles with the chemistry of the body in futile hope of relief.

Exhalation traces the idea of ‘bad air’ through historical moments of climatic change. During a period of cooling known as the Little Ice Age, cloudy and pungent air was thought to be a supernatural explanation for the change in climate and marked the corruption of a ‘fallen earth’. This Earth was perceived as a breathing entity, purging the sins of humanity in deadly gusts that brought about death, famine, the Black Plague and chaos. Since, corrupted air has seeped into the fearful collective conscious. Mist and smoke are used across film, literature and theatre to foreshadowing disastrous existential events, which approach ominously from behind the haze. At the beginning of 2020 the smoke once again seeped in as we inhaled the fiery fumes of a climate emergency. The burnt ashes of the landscape filled our atmospheres as bushfires devastate environments, communities and wildlife across the country. This ‘bad air’ punctuated thousands of individual lungs, drawing disaster into the body to be processed and transformed.

This vessel is inspired by wearable fine-metal Pomander Balls, worn in the Middle Ages on rings, necklaces and belts and filled with pleasant scents like musk and civet to ward off the ‘bad air’. It is also informed by Victorian era Tear Bottles, small glass vessels to collect your tears of grief after a devastating event, once all the tears had dried up the grieving period was deemed over.

Images 1-4 by Shan Turner-Carroll.
Images 5-7 by Document Photography.

I acknowledge the Gadigal people of the Eora Nation, the traditional custodians of the land I work on and pay my respects to Elders past, present and emerging.