31st October

What does Widnes really smell like?

Catalyst awarded Arts Council England funding for new project ‘Two Centuries of Stink: Smell Mapping Widnes, Past and Present’

Catalyst is delighted to announce we have received Arts Council England funding to support a new community-led project, ‘Two Centuries of Stink: Smell Mapping Widnes, Past and Present’. Catalyst is commissioning world-renowned artist and researcher Kate McLean who has spearheaded the practices of ‘smellwalking’ and ‘smellscaping’, to work with our collection and local community to explore the smells, scents and stinks of Widnes from the 19th century up to the present day.

This project has been developed by Catalyst’s Community Engagement Coordinator Jade French as part of Catalyst’s growing community programme. “Widnes is a town famous for its smell. This project will not only explore how smell links to the town’s rich heritage as a place of chemical manufacturing as reflected in our museum, but also work with local people to map how the area smells today. I hope lots of local people will get involved in helping us map out what Widnes really smells like.”

Catalyst will be searching for local people to participate in this project, working alongside the artist to produce both memory based and  ‘nose-first’ data that will be translated into an original series of ‘smell maps’ exhibited over Summer 2020 in the refurbished reception.

Artist Kate McLean says, “I am delighted to be working with the Catalyst and communities around Widnes over the next 12 months exploring and examining their smelly industrial heritage. Fragrance, smell, whiffs and pongs have been a part of the local landscape for many years and it will be exciting to uncover the tools and processes used, and the comments of those who had direct experience.”


This project is funded by Arts Council England’s National Project Lottery Grants with support from Wellcome Trust’s Inspiring Science Fund.