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Listen: Translating Scent

  • By Lora Christy
  • 19th July 2016
On 2 June 2016, Free Word welcomed translators and a perfume expert to explore the concept of "translating" scent. Missed it? Smell the roses and catch up below.

How can we translate scent into words and vice versa? Our Translator in Residence, Marta Dziurosz, hosted this fragrant evening all about the most elusive sense. Marta’s guests – Euan Cameron, translator of Philippe Claudel’s Parfums (an autobiography told in smells); Ricarda Vidal, translator, researcher and creator of Translation Games (an interdisciplinary project playing with scent); and Pia Long, writer at Volatile Fiction and perfume expert – discussed the alchemy of language and sensory experiences.

After the discussion and a short reading from Parfums, participants had the chance to try their hand at a spot of creative writing; we provided fragrant substances to inspire them to “translate” these scents into prose or poetry.

Fragrance raw material samples for the evening were provided by Orchadia Solutions, a consultancy that helps clients with all kinds of fragrance business-related matters. When you work with Orchadia, you tap into over 25 years of perfumery experience, deep knowledge of the fragrance industry, insider understanding of fragrance regulation, training expertise, strong marketing skills and access to a substantial network.

Speakers at this event included:

Euan Cameron was born in London, brought up in Argentina, and educated in Britain and France. After a long career as a publisher, he subsequently went on to earn his living as a book reviewer and literary journalist before returning to publishing part-time as an editor at Harvill and Random House. Since 1995, Euan has translated over twenty-five books from French, including works by Simone de Beauvoir, Julien Green, Paul Morand, François Bizot, Pierre Péju, Antoine Audouard, François Gantheret and many others, as well as biographies of Marcel Proust, Irène Némirovsky and Graham Greene (from Spanish). He served on the Committee of the Royal Literary Fund from 1998 to 2014 and was appointed Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres in 2011.

Pia Long has worked as an in-house junior perfumer for a well-known global cosmetics brand, a technical manager, training manager, independent perfumer, fragrance industry consultant, copywriter and freelance journalist. She is a council member of the British Society of Perfumers (BSP) and helps the society communicate about its activities. She is a regular contributor to Basenotes and The Perfume Society’sThe Scented Letter magazine, and has a monthly column (The Juice – Inside Fragrance) in Perfumer & Flavorist magazine. Pia writes product copy, web copy, press releases and marketing materials for fragrance businesses of all kinds. She continues to work as an independent perfumer, creating fragrances for clients and personal projects.

Dr Ricarda Vidal is a lecturer, translator and curator. In 2013, she launched Translation Games, which explores the theory and practice of translation within literature (i.e. between languages), the fine arts (i.e. between art genres), and textile design, as well as across these disciplines, via rule-based games. Ricarda has published widely and is the author ofDeath and Desire in Car Crash Culture: A Century of Romantic Futurisms (Peter Lang, 2013), co-editor (with Maria-José Blanco) of The Power of Death: Contemporary Reflections on Death in Western Society (Berghahn, 2014), and (with Ingo Cornils) of Alternative Worlds: Blue-Sky Thinking Since 1900(Peter Lang, 2014). Together with the artist Sam Treadaway she also runs the bookwork project Revolve:R, an exploration of visual communication in collaboration with 24 international artists. Find out more at her website: www.ricardavidal.com.

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