In the summer of 2013 I became fascinated by the news reports of 'fatbergs' found in the sewers underneath Kingston in London. This coincided with my being accepted for an artist residency with the South London Underground Department of Geopotation and Effluence. Through working with them, I discovered that sewer fat from different areas of London retain distinctive smells. S.L.U.D.G.E. is currently under going a pilot project with Thames Water to turn 'waste effluent' into a biofuel. The fat is separated from the 'waste' which is how the folk at S.L.U.D.G.E. discovered the fascinating world of sewer fat smells. Amazingly they gave me some samples of the fats. As one of their team used to work in Cardiff he was able to get some samples from the city as well.
My research is in part concerned with the philosophical notion of 'sense of place' or how people emotionally attach to locations. Olfactory stimulation is well documented as an effective way to trigger memory. A possible strategy for enabling people to feel comfortable within a location, might be to trigger positive memories through olfactory stimulants (smells). This is why the idea of sewer fat smells from specific locations particularly appeals to me.
The Made in Roath curators asked me to do a show, The Museum of Mystery, the Albany pub in Cardiff. This was an opportunity to share the 'sewer fat samples' I had collected in fun way. So the 'Smell the City' exhibition came to be.