ROSE is a collaborative project, written and illustrated by Alexandra Higlett & Georgina Hounsome in 2011 for The Cold Press. Each book is digitally printed on grey ‘popset!’ paper, and has a soft cover. The book comes with a limited edition silkscreen print, which is hand spot-coloured with scented ink.
Rose is found in Bow Cemetery having suffered trauma-related memory loss. She is admitted to Stone House Hospital, the former City of London Asylum, where specialists try to illicit the cause of her memory loss and wake her from her amnesia. Rose does not respond to the traditional stimuli the Doctors offer, but through several encounters with different smells. The ‘scent memories’ awakened within her help her recover her forgotten past.
Our sense of smell is strongly associated with memory: anatomically, the nose directly connects with the olfactory lobe in the limbic system; the area of the brain considered the seat of the emotions. More so than a snippet of sound or glimpse of an image, catching a trace of a particular scent can transport us back to times past. Dr. Alan Hirsch, a US neurologist, refers to this as ‘olfactory-evoked recall’ – the immediate recall of childhood memories by a particular odour, and believes that the details evoked by nostalgic smells are not as important as the emotions they recall.