In the third and final episode of our video series, botanical watercolour artist Lucinda Law takes us through her encounters with scents and fragrances. From running around her grandmother’s garden as a child to the shocking loss (and recovery) of her sense of smell, Lucinda loves using scents and fragrances to punctuate major life events and important life phases. She also explores the use of essential oils in helping her gain a better understanding on the subjects of her creations.

What do scents and fragrances mean to you?
Lucinda Law:
Scents and fragrances are very important part of my life. I describe myself as a “sensuist”. In Diane Ackerman’s book, A Natural History Of the Senses, she describes a sensuist as “someone who rejoices in sensory experiences.” And to me, the sense of smell stands out because it is linked to every breath we take. I also love wearing fragrances, because they are a journal of my memories and sensations at various stages in my life. Even till today, a whiff of certain perfumes still take me back to different points of my life, which explains why I still remember the smell of flowers in my grandmother’s garden from when I was a small child.

You’ve lost your sense of smell before. How was that experience like?
LL: About 5 years about, I experience anosmia, the loss of smell.  After a long bout of flu and stress, I lost my sense of smell and it lasted for 15 months. My taste buds also became compromised; since I was unable to pick up on the nuances of smell, food was just salty, bitter, sour, sweet or spicy. The variety of life was gone and I naturally became rather depressed. Anosmia is a quiet handicap that isn’t evident to the people around you, and I felt like I was sealed off from the rest of the world. As I got better, there will be brief periods where my sense of smell returned temporarily before slipping away again. And because I never knew how long these moments will last, I began to really treasure them and not take my sense of smell for granted. Finally, my world changed when my sense of smell returned because I became acutely aware of all the subtleties in life. It was like a miracle and this experience left me extremely grateful.

Why do you also sometimes incorporate scents in your workshops?
LL: I like the idea of synaesthesia where senses intermingle with one another. I sometimes like to imagine that there are other ways to paint to a flower, and once your sense of smell is involved, you are able to approach a subject more than just visually because its scent could also give you some inspiration on how to paint it too. Smell is linked to the part of our brains that handles our memory, so I like to think that by working scents into the creative process, they will give me some clue on how to paint my works better.

Watch all the episodes in our series with Chanel here:

My Paradoxes: Lucinda Law On Her Multi-Faceted Life

My Inspirations: Lucinda Law On Her Love Affair With Nature

By Joyce Cheo
Production: Anue Studios
Stylist: Debby Kwong
Wardrobe: Chanel
Hair: Sean Ang
Makeup: Courtesy of Chanel
Flower Arrangements: Courtesy of Poppy Flora Studio