Smellscapes

Past Nightingale Vale there is a crossroads. Nightingale Place, Herbert Road and Sandy Hill Road come together and I when I get off the train at Woolwich, I climb Sandy Hill and pass the spot. For the past few weeks, there’s been a hint of woodsmoke in the air at the corner, a sign of Autumn and, for me, a reminder of my childhood home outside of London.

Smokey Corner, Eltham SE18

There are a few other places that spring to mind. It’s often at crossroads, or junctions, when I pause and notice a specific smell associated with that place. The intersection of Balls Pond Road and Kingsland Road – close to my old house in Hackney – is one. I never figured out what the scent there was. Distinctive, unique but confusing. Perhaps something to do with the cafes and restaurants nearby.

A few months back, I mentioned to a friend that I planned to create a map based on on non-visual cues close to my house. In fact, I’d like to create a smellscape map, plotting unique points associated with smell across the city. Home, work, commute, social; I want to see how the scents of London represent my experiences.

The Whiff of Uncertainty: Donut Smellscape, by Esther Wu [via MappingWeirdStuff

It wouldn’t be dissimilar to Esther Wu’s The Whiff of Uncertainty, but spatially wider, and not just focused on Donuts. And a little like The Nose Knows (pictured above), but looking at intense memories of all kinds, not just intensely bad smells. I picked up Wu and Spencer’s maps via Mapping Weird Stuff which is worth a read for the title alone (!) but looks to be a collection of interesting spatial experience-scapes.

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