Page last updated at 11:39 GMT, Wednesday, 30 April 2008 12:39 UK

Art moved for 'smelly' exhibition

The display tries to recreate the chemical smell of the sun

A Sunderland art gallery has replaced its sculptures and paintings with an empty room filled with 14 smells.

The novel "exhibition" has combined hi-tech science with artistic imagination to try and capture strange odours and historic events.

The sensory art is the idea of Robert Blackson, the curator of the Reg Vardy Gallery, and features the chemical smells of the sun and a space station.

The smell of the Hiroshima bomb and the stench of plague are also recreated.

Other interesting smells which have been imagined and created include the aroma of Cleopatra's hair and a death row prisoner's last meal.

Extinct plants

Mr Blackson said: "The idea came to me when I was reading a book called Fast Food Nation. They talk about how you can make a flavour out of anything.

"For example, you've got strawberry flavoured yoghurt, which doesn't actually contain any strawberries, just a bunch of chemicals but it smells like strawberries and that helps to recreate the flavour.

"I thought about the idea of making smells for things that have played an important role in history or society and thought it would be interesting to call on a different sense for the exhibition."

To assist him in his quest, Rob called on botanists, astronomers, scientists and historians to help him recreate specific aromas.

He was also helped by James Wong, a botanist at Botanic Gardens Conservation International, who has spent the last 18 months recreating the smells of four extinct flowering plants.

The For If There Ever Was exhibit at the Ryhope Road gallery runs until 6 June.


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