Demistify: Charing Cross Hospital Art Collection as Perfume

four perfumes on a white background. Each one features a line drawing inspired by the painting it was based on.

Perfume, Hospitals and Healing

The sense of smell is one of our most developed yet least understood sense and is known to be beneficial to the health of those with dementia and brain injuries.

Charing Cross hospital has specialist stroke and neuro-rehabilitation units as well as elderly care wards.

In partnership with the Imperial Health Charity, we turned the hospital art collection into perfumes. This provided an inclusive and unusual way to enjoy the amazing art collection at Charing Cross.

Demistify looks to use the sense of smell to demystify memory, showing how important smelling is to our everyday experiences.

Since my stroke, I have not left the hospital for months. I actually loved smelling the perfume based on London dirt because I even miss the smell of pollution outside! Thank you for bringing a piece of the outside in for me.
— Patient on the Neuro Rehabilitation Ward
Two nurses in blue uniforms enjoying the scents in the hopsital lobby
This perfume is vintage smelling, and reminds me exactly of the sorts of scents I used to wear when I went to dances in the sixties.
— Outpatient

The Scents

Jo Bruton “Landing Girls” wallpaper - Vintage floral scent inspired by popular perfumes of 1950s

John Piper Stained Glass window - Fresh Aquatic notes with a hint of incense, evoking smells of a chapel

Simpson and Son’s Tiles for original Charing Cross Hospital - Apple and fruity notes, fresh cut glass, wood

David Mach “Visit London” - Tobacco, Leather, Rubber, Vanilla

I lost my sense of smell after a sinus operation. I am so grateful that my health is better, but I miss everyday moments of smelling. I grew up in Spain and miss the smell of oranges. This project means so much to me because it reminds people that smell is important.
— Older Patient recovering from sinus operation
I was a painter decorator for most of my life. All I ever smelled was eggshell paint and white spirit. I’m 79 now and really love the smell of the countryside because it gives me a literal breath of fresh air in a bottle.
— Outpatient
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Perfumery and Branding- Sophia Luu

Event Facilitiation - Mathilda Della Torre

Generously supported by the Imperial Health Charity