The Art of Perfume
I didn't make it to Sunderland for If There Ever Was, an exhibition of extinct and impossible smells, for which curator Robert Blackson commissioned 14 strange scents from a team of perfume designers and botanists. Luckily this book released to accompany it brings the smells to me, in the form of paper inserts. The perfumes include a lovely recreated Edwardian scent from the Titanic, a meteorite hitting Peruvian mud, the smell of communism - some kind of institutional soap, I'd guess, with a hint of bleach - and the Mir space station, which it turns out was plagued by "the pungent odour of pickling gym socks", created by the sweat of vodka-drinking Russian cosmonauts. The rub'n'sniff technology works reasonably well, although one of the smells is so strong it seems to drown out the first few: think it's the sun's rays - "hydrogen and helium with a molten cocktail of copper, terbium, strontium, antimony and europium". Had no idea the sun smelt so terrible.