Burning candles is classified as a gentle yet powerful act, drafting a symbolic passage from ordinary to mystical. The mesmerising quality of light in harmony with the scent has deep connotations with the emotional value of a space. “My wish is that these candles can burn in the background during your creative process, much like a playlist, invigorating your senses and bringing you back to self,” shares a wishful Shantell Martin on her newly launched candles in collaboration with Joya Studios.
New York-based British artist, who specialises as a multimedia artist, visual artist and philosopher, Martin, is known for her sketches and large-scale artworks that call attention to everyday intuitions, with the verbal cues exuded becoming enigmatic questions to sit with. Her meditative artworks complement Brooklyn-based studio Joya's craftsmanship imbibing dynamic interests with scents that attempt to reinterpret the ordinary and elevate it to a vaulted status. Bringing their harmonious approach together is their newest collaboration, releasing on January 23, 2023, which is a manifestation of fragrances influencing the psychology of its user, rendered in the Joya glass votive and XL porcelain candles.
“I love that they are local, located in Brooklyn and that they are specialists in what they are doing. The Joya team wants to do things at a high-quality level, and they push the envelope in what they do. There's so much creativity and excellence in the work that they do,” Martin elaborates on their shared mission of producing high-quality work that constantly progresses while maximising creativity. While light and space form the foundation of Martin's work as a visual artist, she feels this collaboration is a natural extension of that. Expounding on how these scents connect to her work, she adds, “I feel like my work involves all of the senses. I've been able to activate audio and visual elements and have focused on that over the years, but incorporating scent and smell feels like a natural extension. Fundamentally, this is just a different dimension of my work.”
The hand-poured candles, made in Joya’s 19th century Brooklyn rigging garage turned ceramic studio, feature Martin’s meditative line drawing and embody her vision of transposing users to a creative space that is calm and helps one stay grounded in their process. Both Martin and Joya are also bound by a common chord—exploring identity. “I believe we also personally share this desire to learn and connect,” shares Frederick Bouchardy, founder and CEO of Joya Candle. “The graphic urgency of Shantell’s work is a strong counterpoint to the nuanced invisibility of ours. Her work is also multi-sensory and multi-dimensional, which is how I see Joya,” he adds about collaborating with Shantell. A sense of immediate recognizability, constantly thought-provoking, evolving, and unique, set the foundation for this collaboration, manifested in the words incorporated by Martin within her drawings.
A "sense of feelings and spaces" was Shantell’s direction for the fragrances, correlating to her free-flowing drawings, “It's always those scents that remind me of home and the places I've been. Baked bread in the mornings, green tea, the smell of the ocean,” shares Martin on the mood behind the choice of fragrances. While calm, optimism, and joy, words associated with Martin’s favourite scents form the pillars of inspiration behind the key notes of the scent, the sense of the passage of time, everyday hours and minutes spent, and the ways in which artists like to spend their time are also incorporated in the essence of the candles.
Each distinctive scent is released after a specific lapse of time, reminiscent of that specific time mark. The top scent touted Silk pyjamas, is dramatic yet nuanced with herbal inflexions of clary sage, lavender, chamomile, and Cardamom Guatemala Heart with hints of geranium, rose blossoms, lily, and coconut that escape the space with lingering notes of violet leaf, amber, and pale musk. A harmonious balance is brought to the base scent touted Dragon well, which is a traditional scent with a meticulous edge of cyclamen, shaded green tea, and ocean air with hints of heliotrope, vanilla flower, tuberose, and jasmine petals, leaving behind a woody musk base of cedar leaf, amber, and sweet musk.
A symbol of intention, commitment, and execution—the Classic glass Votive candle burns for 50 hours, and the Limited edition XL candle for 48 hours, with precise considerations supporting every detail, adorning it as the ‘gift of focus,’ either for yourself or a loved one. “I was also very intentional with the words and drawings selected for the candle's exterior, perhaps even more so than my other projects. I really wanted to create a product that supports the owner of the candle,” shares Martin. The candle vessels served as a canvas for Shantell's sweeping artwork, with each piece hand-decorated, lending a sense of uniqueness and individuality. “I think of this as an epic outdoor candle or statement and conversation piece inside that commands attention but doesn’t fit seamlessly into existing decor,” adds Bouchardy on the artwork, which grants a second life to the vessel.
What do creatives need to stay inventive? A space soaked with comfort to get into the zone, the limited edition XL candle and the Classic Glass Votive candle are a reminder of an artist's rediscovery of their creativity, highlighted by the keywords rendered onto the candle - Rest, Thinking, Wandering, Focus, You Time. With this collaboration, which organically and consistently brought to fruition a timeless scent, centred around time. Joya Studio along with Shantell have explored scents, crafted as background music to everyday life, with every note settling into your to-do list as the day goes by.
Text by Ria Jha