National Museum and Je t’aime Perfumery interprets ‘700 years of Singapura’ through smells
Singapore’s oldest museum collaborates with a Master Perfumer to mark Singapore’s history with customised smells.
From 17 April to 18 May 2015, the National Museum will put on display 12 unique smells in SINGAPURA:700 years, an exhibition which showcases an olfactory translation of Singapore history.
These smells are conceived by Mrs Prachi Garg, founder of Je t’aime Perfumery and an Olfactory-artist.
Besides this display, Prachi will also organise a ‘Perfume Workshop’ where Singaporeans can create their own idea of a ‘Scent of the Nation’ on 2 May 2015.
Experience Singapura’s 700 years through the ‘Singapore Stone’, ‘Chinese masonry’, ‘Life before 14th Century’, ‘Fear during Japanese invasion’ and more, with your nose.
Since time immemorial, smells have served as memory markers. For example, the smell of calamine lotion might bring back childhood memories of a warm day for those who grew up in 1970s Singapore when the pink suspension was liberally applied by local mothers to soothe prickly heat. Smells evoke memories. For some, these memories could be nostalgia, love or even trauma. As our island develops and matures through the last 700 years, its colourful history can be categorised into different periods where certain moods and emotions prevail.
To enable visitors to experience the dormant mood of different eras, the National Museum and Je t’aime Perfumery, Museum volunteers and curators have worked together to create a scent to symbolise each of them. If you have ever wondered about what it must feel like to live in a particular era in Singapore, you can now experience it at the National Museum.
These signature scents will be displayed at different locations in all the galleries at the Museum, to add sensorial dimension . They range from a musky Ancient Singapore to a spicy Colonial Singapore. Visitors can also take a whiff of Independent Singapore, a refreshing fruity scent that captures the energy of a nation gearing to surge forward and grow. There is also Fear, an unpleasant smell to represent uncertain times, which can evoke negative emotions.
“I look forward to seeing people’s reaction when they smell Fear. Even when we were designing it, some team members were affected to the extent that our discussion escalated to an argument. But as soon as we moved to next pleasant smell, everyone was relaxed again,” shares Prachi.
Recalling the creation process, Prachi also lets on that the Singapore Stone was the most difficult to create, as the stone could only be seen along our coasts during low-tide. “So the question was: do we make the stone smell wet or dry? Eventually we all agreed to make it semi-wet. These are two completely different smells and therefore, challenging to mix,” recalls Mrs Garg.
“Other interesting smells to look out for are ‘Hotel de l' Europe’ and ‘Independent Singapore’. These are both conceptual smells and often lead people into a discussion. Strong discussion where likes and dislikes are fairly strong!”
Create your own Singapore Scent on 3rd May
Each participant will get the chance to learn the techniques of perfume making and how to mix different ingredients to create your unique Scent of the Nation. Tickets for this 2 May event will be on sale on SISTIC from 10 April.
Before the workshop, participants will have a chance to join the museum-volunteers on a guided tour to smell your way through Singapore's history and experience her transformation from a humble fishing village to the pride of an empire, before becoming an independent nation-state as she is today.
*Each participant gets to keep a 75ml bottle of perfume they create.
About the Master Perfumer: Mrs Prachi Saini Garg
Prachi quit a successful career as a multi-media artist to start a perfumery in Singapore to help people express themselves through scents. At her workshops, clients can create beautiful, ugly, artistic or even commercial smells. Some people have found their signature scent and others have even tried to launch their own brands with her help. Je t’aime provides all the raw ingredients while the creative process is left to the client’s imagination.
Prachi graduated from the Indian Institute of Technology (Roorkee) in 1997, and also holds an MBA from the University of Hong Kong / London Business School.
About Heritage Festival Singapore
Now in its 12th year, National Heritage Board’s signature Singapore HeritageFest promises yet another edition of fun! Spanning five weekends from 17 April to 18 May 2015, Singapore HeritageFest 2015 will be the largest edition to date with more community partners coming on board to contribute and participate. In the festival’s spirit of celebration and discovery, explore familiar places, rediscover the lesser known and forgotten stories behind their past; and come to appreciate all these in a whole new way. Join us in a journey to trace Singapore’ humble beginnings on the banks of the Singapore River to our heartlands that are unique in their own ways as we celebrate not just what connects us as one, but also our diversity that make us truly Singaporean.