Stories from Smells (Margareta)

Historical Context

Henry Pan and Aaron Chittilappilly

A time period that we are trying to focus with our test tube project is the last few years of WW2. Margareta was in Sweden at that time and war ended when she was only five. She couldn't remember a lot things about the war but she recalled that her family suffered from the lack of food. They would receive ration cards in order to obtain a small portion of food from the government and sometimes they would even eat rabbit meat for survival. During the war, Margareta's father served in the Swedish army and he hung a rifle in the hallway after his service. When the war ended on September 2, 1945, the news was everywhere in the world and Margareta still recalled her excitement after hearing from the radio. From that moment on, Margareta's living condition gradually improved and she began to eat fruits that she never had during the war. She tried oranges but hated the sour taste, she had bananas but didn't like it. Because of this experience, we are trying to incorporate these strong smells that would elicit Margareta's memories about WW2. 

During the war, Sweden declared the policy of non-belligerency and remained as a neutral nation. However, their neutrality was debated over the years, and their intentions were unclear. In 1939, war broke out between Finland and Russia. Although Sweden never officially declared their assistance for Finland, thousands of volunteers were involved in the war. Later on 1940, Germany controlled the Baltic sea and restrained Sweden's trades with foreign countries. Nearly all the goods that were exported from Sweden went to the hands of Germans. Especially iron ore and ball bearings which were used in wars. As a neutral country, Sweden received pressures from both the Allied Powers and the Axis Powers. They tried to appease both sides with their demands, and at the same time, they were also building a strong military force. Throughout the war, Sweden held the initiative of conducting humanitarian missions. They offered help and assistance to thousands of refugees.


Henry Pan

1. I learned how to use the laser cutter and I am finally familiar with all the procedures now. 

2. I learned that although feedbacks and suggestions from our coaches are very important, we don't necessarily have to follow their instructions. We should incorporate their suggestions and our original ideas together.

3. I learned that time management is very important when working on a project. Although we had about three weeks in total to finish the project, a lot of things were done at the last minute. 

Explain what was difficult for you during this process and why.

A difficulty that we faced during this process was definitely time management. We laser cut most of our things on the last work day and we didn't have much time to finish the presentation. We should have finished 90% of the work before the last day. Another problem that we faced throughout the process was the fact that we were suggested a new idea three days before the presentation. Although the idea was really good, we didn't have enough time to accomplish it, therefore we had to go with our original design. 

Talk about feedback that you received and how you were able to incorporate that into your process.  

Before the mid review presentation, Aaron and I only focused on the idea of a single test tube holder. However, after the presentation, Mrs.Jones suggested us to make a map and Mrs.M suggested us to decorate the test tube holder. Eventually, we went with Mrs.M's idea and later on Ms. Minifie suggested us to create some texture onto the test tube holder. Therefore, we engraved a picture of the Stockholm city hall on the front of the test tube holder. 

Artistic Statement

Aaron Chittilappilly

When we heard the recording of Margareta's interview, many of the memories she explained had a rich sense of smells. For example, walking through a Birch forest and smelling the fresh birch barks. After discussing about the interview with my partner, we came to the conclusion that we are going to create different scented test tubes which represents different parts of her life.

The reason we chose this idea was because, scent is one of the most strongest sense, therefore it can trigger memories very easily. We can also represent a lot more things with just different scents. So for this project the different scents we will be using are, Orange, Hand sanitizer, Essential Oil, Apple, and trees. We chose these different scents because, Orange represents a lot of her child hood. When she was a child, after WW-II she ate a lot of fresh oranges which she liked a lot. This is her favorite fruit. We used Hand Sanitizer because it represents her years of working in the Bio Lab as this is a very common smell in labs. We are going to use essential oils because it will create a scent which represents Margareta. We used trees because, during and after the WW-II she used to walk through a lot of birch forests when she was young, so the smell of the forest is very strong in her memory.

As I roamed around the woods, gently touching the aged tree barks, a feeling of homesickness caught me unprepared. The smell of the birch wood and the sight of colorful mushroom laying on the ground, I was brought back to the old times. I could feel the breeze tapping my skin, and I could hear the branches cracking under my feet. I just stood in the middle of the wood and sensed the nature surrounding my body. The leaves, flowers, and grasses, I was able to sense ever subtle movement as if time has slowed down.