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.
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.
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.