Sissel Tolaas

Gerrard O'Carroll Memorial Lecture

  • ST 2 - Photo credit Daisy Ginsberg

    Photo: Daisy Ginsberg

Past Event


This event was on Wed 27 November, 7pm

‘There is a whole world to smell and a whole world to educate how to smell’  – Sissel Tolaas

What happens when we understand the world beyond how it looks? Artist, smell researcher and founder of the Smell  Re_Search Lab, Berlin, Sissel Tolaas has committed her life to revealing the power of our olfactory worlds: investigating, recording  and replication of real smells – from sweat to the ‘smellscapes’ of cities around the world and beyond. Tolaas joins us for this special event to deliver our annual memorial lecture.

The Gerrard O’Carroll Memorial Lecture Series, inspired by the architect, writer, curator and Senior Tutor in the School of Architecture and Design at the Royal College of Art, London, invites kindred maverick thinkers from across disciplines to see beyond our assumptions and imagine what the world can be. Embracing love and joy, darkness and despair in equal measure, the series proposes experimental, subversive and at times anarchic approaches to human existence.

In collaboration with Adrian O’Carroll and Rosy Head, supported by Adrian and Jennifer O’Carroll.

About Sissel Tolaas

Sissel Tolaas has been working, researching and experimenting intensively with the topic of smell since 1990. She is a pioneer and unique in her approach to smells. She has developed a wide range of revolutionary projects worldwide with smells based upon her own knowledge – organic chemistry, linguistics, and the visual arts. Tolaas established the SMELL RE_searchLab Berlin in January 2004, supported by IFF Inc.

Tolaas has special skills in smell recognition, analysis and reproduction. She has experience with smells in many different and diverse contexts. Her research and projects have won recognition through numerous national and international scholarships, honours, and prizes. She is very capable at collaborating intensively with those of other disciplines across the globe.

Tolaas has shown her projects in many museums and institutions including MOMA, NGV, DIA, CCA and TATE Modern.  She has worked with universities such as MIT, Nanyang Technical, Harvard and Oxford. Sissel has done 52 City SmellScapes research projects since 1996, of, for and with major cities. She has build up several types of smell archives such as Smell & Language; Smell & Coding, Functiona Smell and is currently working on smell molecule preservation /conservation archives on the world’s oceans, smell artefacts (on heritage) in Detroit, and Australia’s indigenous past. Tolaas’ collections of smell molecules and smell structures from 1990 till 2018 include 10,000 samples. Since 2014 Tolaas has participated in various start-ups, i.e. in the fields of the senses and education; senses and technology.

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