Welcome to JORUM JOURNAL ISSUE 13.
JORUM JOURNAL is a monthly glimpse behind the scenes at Jorum Studio. Find out what’s inspiring us, what’s motivating us, what we’re celebrating – the thoughts and stories behind our fragrances.
A MOMENT WITH: SEQUOIA BARNES
So We Don’t Forget Each Other, Phase 1 (2022), ‘coat’ made of recycled quilts, fabric remnants, rope, and found objects.
For Sequoia Barnes – artist, scholar and latest recipient of the Jorum Craft Award – quilting has always been tightly stitched into the fabric of community, culture and memory. We discuss creative integrity, growing up in Alabama, the power of scent memory and more.
What drew you to making and studying art?
I’ve always made art and have wanted to be an artist since I was a little kid. I’m very determined, sometimes stubbornly so (typical Aries), and over the years I’ve just used every opportunity I have had to do something creative.
You are an art and design scholar as well as a textile / mixed media artist and potter – in what ways do you think looking back at the past can help artists move forward with their practice?
I think for some artists looking at the past doesn’t really do anything for them. I get that even though I look at the past a lot. Whether in my own work or in general because my work is quite referential because I use found objects quite a bit, and I’m interested in semiotics and how ideas and things leap across time to affect us still in the present as well as how things can be deconstructed to reveal things underneath that and underneath that like a strange onion of sorts.
Who / what are some of your biggest inspirations or influences?
There’s so many. I could go on forever, honestly. So many names and things to fit in here. I guess my biggest inspiration is probably growing up in Alabama, in the Gulf of Mexico. You have Gee’s Bend up the Mississippi and Mardi Gras down the Mississippi with all this beautiful southern assemblage in between. It’s a unique place even within America. I like to stitch text as well, and so, words have a big effect on me, particularly how a certain set or grouping of words can make you feel a certain way. Color and pattern influence me as well. I’m a very sensory driven person, so anything that engages most if not all my senses will get my creative flow going.
You usually hand-sew your quilts – is there something about the process of hand-sewing that resonates with you?
Yes, very much so. As I said before, I’m sensory driven and hand sewing is crucial to my making process for that reason, but I also see quilt-making and stitching, in particular, as rituals. The sewing process is like meditation to me. It even affects how I breathe while sewing, in time with my sewing rhythm. Hand sewing can also be a bonding experience too. My grandmother taught me and we stitched together. I sometimes invite friends to assist me in quilting bigger projects to have that bonding/sharing time.
Gateway (2021), commissioned by Edinburgh Art Festival, quilt installation at Johnston Terrace Gardens. Image credit: Sally Jubb Photography.
Fabric is a particularly potent holder of memories (including scent memories!) – how does this feature in your thought process when making? Is there a reason you use recycled fabrics, aside from environmental reasons?
You really hit the nail on the head there. So powerful, having the ability to hold memories. I like second-hand/recycled fabrics for that reason. It had a life before I got it. You can smell it on the fabric. That’s already telling me a story, even the stains that get left behind tell it, and I’m always very curious about that former life especially with the second-hand quilts I get. I don’t know. It’s just something about gathering all these stories (fabrics) to make another story, my own stories, that’s just really powerful to me.
Your proposed response to the Unusual Weather brief is a powerful and emotionally charged piece – how are you feeling about beginning the research / making process?
I have been thinking about it quite a lot, and I’m anticipating and perhaps anxious about the possibility of this being a cathartic experience or perhaps remembering things I had not realized I’d forgotten, that sort of thing. But I’m also ready to see how my past experiences in those uncontrollable and often terrifying moments are translated into stitch. I think the making process will be quite a complex experience for me.
What is currently the most important thing to you about your own practice?
This is a good question, one I don’t think I’ve ever asked myself honestly. I’m not sure if I have a clear cut answer because I do so many things under the umbrella of ‘practice’. I think my main thing is, cornily enough, integrity. I think people say that a lot, but I don’t think many of us (perhaps including myself) actually know what integrity means, especially when it comes to actually doing it. However, I try really hard to stand on my principles, advocate for myself and others, be adamant about how I want to make or how I want my work to be shown, as well as being myself at all times with everyone regardless of who has the social capital/power/influence in these spaces because navigating the art world can often warp your sense of self-worth and reality.
Lastly, what does craftsmanship mean to you?
Another good question. I would say before maybe five years ago, I saw the word ‘craftsmanship’ as an elitist term meant to alienate makers who didn’t do things that pleased the eye, or some sort of traditional sensibility, or a way to standardize art making which is the worst thing. But now, I see craftsmanship as a maker’s signature. Like, if I see something sitting somewhere or in a picture out of context, I’d still know that you made that because I can see your ‘hand’ in the construction of that thing regardless of who it pleases or doesn’t please. Does that make sense? I’m rarely interested in art that pleases people, but I do find a sort of, I don’t know…kinship I guess…in seeing someone’s work and instantly knowing who made it. It’s like a little wave hello.
Still from amplified stitching performance at Fruitmarket, May 2022.
Out There: Stories by Kate Folk
A perspective-shifting collection of short stories featuring unsettling sci-fi elements, highlighting some of the most pressing social and environmental topics of today.
A Frog in the Fall by Linnea Sterte
Beautiful and contemplative, this comic by Swedish illustrator Linnea Sterte is one of the most memorable and heartwarming we've read. We also love her previous release, Stages of Rot, published by the sadly-closed Peow Studio.
Strong Female Character by Fern Brady
A hilarious, unflinching and heartfelt account of growing up with undiagnosed Autism in Scotland, and life after diagnosis.
MATERIAL FOCUS: WHISKY LACTONE
No whisky profile should be without the aptly named ‘Whisky Lactone’. This aromatic is supplied under a number of synonyms but to keep it simple, we will stick with Whisky Lactone.
We use Whisky Lactone to great effect in our recent launch SPIRITCASK where it helps to support the perfume's spirited opening impression (while also supporting the more robust oakwood extract, tonka and vanilla sensations.) When combined with fine qualities of vanilla absolute, the duo creates a warmed tonka facet that is utterly brilliant.
We find this molecule occurring naturally in oak (used for casks) and as such in other barrel aged spirits such as rum, cognac, sherry and port, alongside whisky.
We find Whisky Lactone to be stunningly multifaceted and a true representation of once-full whisky cask represented by one material. It has a unique, oily quality with a slight burnt-barley note, further adding to the realistic whisky profile. Smelling the material neat, you will notice subtle savoury qualities, boozy wood notes, damp tonka and vanilla profiles and toasted brown notes alongside a positively greasy coconut overtone.
Whisky Lactone can be used fairly freely however we like to use it in relatively low amounts, as too much and the formula can veer drastically celery-like and ketonic (fine if that’s the desired effect, but it can be disagreeable if dosed heavily!)
As versatile as Whisky Lactone is, we tend to use it in gourmand-leaning compositions exclusively. It could be used in other styles of perfume formulation where a coumarin or vanilla material would typically be used, however we like using it within progressive gourmand profiles only… for now.